Some books

September 1, 2012 4 comments

Janet Afary and Kevin Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revoution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism [PDF]

Angelika Bammer, Partial Visions: Feminism and Utopianism in the 1970s [PDF]

Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti and Universal History [PDF]

Dani Cavallero, French Feminism: An Introduction [PDF]

Seymour Drescher, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery [PDF]

Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse [PDF]

Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling [PDF]

Diana Leonard and Lisa Adkins (eds.), Sex in Question: French Materialist Feminism [PDF]

Linda McDowell, Working Bodies: Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities [PDF]

Donna Jean Murch, Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California [PDF]

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor [PDF]

Joshua D. Rothman, Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families Across the Color Line in Virginia 1787-1861 [PDF]

Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed [PDF]

Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries [PDF]

Categories: Uncategorized

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America [book]

May 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

2010. PDF

 

excerpt:

This book is about the ideological and material foundations of the care crisis. It is grounded in the premise that the often untenable strains to which family caregivers are subject and the parlous situation of paid caregivers are closely intertwined and need to be examined together. The main thesis of the book is that the social organization of care has been rooted in diverse forms of coercion that have induced women to assume responsibility for caring for family members and that have tracked poor, racial minority, and immigrant women into positions entailing caring for others. The forms of coercion have varied in degree, directness, and explicitness but nonetheless have served to constrain and direct women’s choices; the net consequence of restricted choice has been to keep caring labor “cheap,” that is, free (in the case of family care labor) or low waged (in the case of paid care labor). Read more…

Daily Mail (UK): “Reclaiming the banks: Activists turn British banks into creches, classrooms and launderettes in protest over public service cuts”

February 26, 2011 2 comments

“Reclaiming the banks: Activists turn British banks into creches, classrooms and launderettes in protest over public service cuts”

Daily Mail [UK], Feb. 26, 2011 [link]

Activists stormed more than 40 banks across Britain in protest over executive bonuses and public service cuts –  and turned them into a variety of ad hoc walk-in centres.

UK Uncut said demonstrators set up creches, laundries, school classrooms, libraries, homeless shelters, drama clubs, walk-in clinics, youth centres, job centres and leisure centres at branches of RBS, NatWest and Lloyds.

At 10am in Camden, north London, demonstrators invaded a NatWest and set up a creche where children played, practiced musical instruments while parents caught up.

Playcentre: In Camden, north London, demonstrators invaded a NatWest and set up a creche where children played, practiced musical instruments while parents caught up 

Playcentre: In Camden, north London, demonstrators invaded a NatWest and set up a creche where children played, practiced musical instruments while parents caught up  Read more…

Categories: news

Taking a break

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m taking a break from posting for a while. Check the index on the right-hand side for a list of all 150 or so posts.

If you want to take over or take a different direction, email caringlabor@gmail.com.

Categories: news

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, “Racial Ethnic Women’s Labor: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class Oppression”

February 13, 2011 3 comments

“Racial Ethnic Women’s Labor: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class Oppression”

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

Review of Radical Political Economics Vol 17(3):86-108, 1985. [PDF]

INTRODUCTION

The failure of the feminist movement to address the concerns of Black, Hispanic and Asian-American women is currently engendering widespread discussion in white women’s organizations. Paralleling this discussion is a growing interest among racial ethnic women [1] in articulating aspects of their experiences that have been ignored in feminist analyses of women’s oppression (e.g. oral histories by Sterling 1979; Elessar, MacKenzie and Tixier y Vigil 1980; Kim 1983; and social and historical studies by Dill 1979; Mirande and Enriquez 1979; Davis 1981; Hooks 1981; Jones 1984). [2]

As an initial corrective, racial ethnic scholars have begun research on racial ethnic women in relation to employment, the family and the ethnic community, both historically and contemporarily (e.g. Acosta-Belen 1979; Mora and Del Castillo 1980; Melville 1980; Rodgers-Rose 1980; Tsuchida 1982). The most interesting of these studies describe the social world and day-to-day struggles of racial ethnic women, making visible what has up to now been invisible in the social sciences and humanities. These concrete data constitute the first step toward understanding the effects of race and gender oppression in the lives of racial ethnic women. Read more…

The Fargate Speaker [UK], “Crisis in Care: Interview with an anarchist support worker”

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

“Crisis in Care: Interview with an anarchist support worker”

The Fargate Speaker

Jan. 31, 2011 [link]

 

The Fargate Speaker talks to a local support worker about the problems in social care as a result of the recession and the proposed austerity measures.

I work as a support worker for a private company that provides social care for people in Sheffield for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. The company I work operates across the city. According to government officials, cuts to public spending will not harm front line services, workers, or service users. The reality of the situation is that working conditions are getting worse, day services are closing down, and those paying for the support services are being excluded from any of the decisions relating to care they supposedly direct and influence. Read more…

Categories: affect/care, news

Marina Vishmidt, “Human Capital or Toxic Asset: After the Wage”

February 8, 2011 1 comment

“Human Capital or Toxic Asset: After the Wage”

Marina Vishmidt

Reartikulacija, 2010. [link]

This is a sequence of reflections on affirmation and negation, on identification and severance: determinate negation as strategic affirmation, the identification of concrete universals and severance from a defunct relation. These lines will be explored with reference to the current situation of the waged and unwaged working class, most proximately in Britain, as “debt” becomes the ideological white noise and the practical horizon of all social and political imagination. Household indebtedness is confused with the state deficit in the spontaneous ideology of the Conservative austerity agenda, as what remains of the crisis-riddled economy is sacrificed to the “debt” – as poor people to loan sharks, so Britain to the bond investors. The nationalist narrative of “we’re all in this together” eliminates any space for discussion as to who might bear greater responsibility for the crisis, and who should be paying for it. The announced cuts make it all too clear – it’s the bloated public sector and welfare payments which are responsible, and those that have the least shall have even that taken away, as the Biblical parable goes. Yet a fatalistic consensus prevails for now, transfixed by a menace beyond dispute: the “debt.” Read more…

María Ruido, “Just Do It! Bodies and Images of Women in the New Division of Labor”

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“Just Do It! Bodies and Images of Women in the New Division of Labor”

María Ruido

“Representation needs to be contextualized from several points. The representation of texts and images does not reflect the world as a mirror, mere translation of its sources, but is rather remodeled, coded in rhetorical terms. (…) Representation may be understood as a visible formal ‘articulation’ of social order “.

Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference, 1994

 

FIRST INTRODUCTION

WORK> NON WORK: REDEFINITIONS FROM FEMINISM

“What do you do? What is your occupation?” Although every day we all reply quite easily to this apparently simple question, if we stop and carefully think what is our interlocutor demanding, we conclude that, in fact, what he/she really wants to know is the job we have or the activity or activities we make for a living and does not expect us at all to enumerate the wide range of actions, relations and productions that we unfold throughout the day.

Defining work and its limits in abstract terms at the present time, where the times and locations of production became blurred and extended, is not an easy task. However, experiencing its consequences on our bodies seems to be less complicated, especially if we consider a definition of work that goes beyond the economistic view (whether neoclassical or Marxist) and, especially, if we understand our sustainment of a daily life and our daily incorporation of personalities and social actions as spaces and (re)productive efforts. Everything that tires, that occupies, that disciplines and stresses our body, but also everything that constructs it, that takes care of it, that gives it pleasure and maintains it, is work. Read more…

Madame Tlank, “The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Battle of all* Mothers (or: No Unauthorised Reproduction)”

Madame Tlank

mute vol. 2 no. 9, 2008. [PDF]

Well Jeff, … the fact is that you have the luxury of knowing that you will never ever ever ever EVER be faced with the government bossing you around like a child, simply because you have a parasite living in your body.

– The Law Fairy, Feministing.com

By now people have forgotten what history has proven: that ‘raising’ a child is tantamount to retarding his development. The best way to raise a child is to LAY OFF.

– Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, 1970

In what follows I wish to consider the effects of recent UK health and social policies on women and their children who are labelled ‘at risk’.[1] Read more…

Louie Traikovski, “The Housewives’ Wages Debate in the 1920s”

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Housewives’ Wages Debate in the 1920s”

Louie Traikovski

Journal of Australian Studies, No. 78, 2003 [PDF]

The topic of housewives’ wages has received almost no Australian historical consideration. Dorothy Campbell’s fleeting reference is an extremely rare exception. [1] This article provides a much-needed historical examination of a neglected topic. Such examination shows that progressive and conservative arguments were mounted on both sides of the debate over housewives’ wages in Australia in the 1920s. Both sides of the debate are also found to have sometimes pursued contradictory aims. Furthermore, this article contests sociologist Ann Oakley’s claim that support for housewives’ wages always has conservative ends. [2]

The closest a housewife’s wage came to being awarded in 1920s Australia was in 1921, when the matter was debated in the Western Australian parliament. [3] This debate continued throughout the decade in the press, where arguments over financial remuneration for a housewife’s domestic labour focused on the value of woman’s domestic work and woman’s place in marriage. The press both reflected and shaped the debate. It fulfilled the former role by reporting statements by key public figures on the issue. It fulfilled the latter role through publishing the opinion of staff columnists and citizen letter writers on the topic. Read more…

Categories: histories, housework

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, “Creating a Caring Society”

January 25, 2011 2 comments

“Creating a Caring Society
Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 29, No. 1, Utopian Visions: Engaged Sociologies for the 21st Century (Jan., 2000), pp. 84-94 [PDF]

Why is it important to achieve a society that values caring and caring relationships? The answer might appear obvious: It seems inherent in the definition of a good society that those who cannot care for themselves are cared for; that those who can care for themselves can trust that, should they become dependent, they will be cared for; and that people will be supported in their efforts to care for those they care about. But even more is at stake. Currently we are caught in a nasty circle. To the extent that caring is devalued, invisible, underpaid, and penalized, it is relegated to those who lack economic, political, and social power and status. And to the extent that those who engage in caring are drawn disproportionately from among disadvantaged groups (women, people of color, and immigrants), their activity-that of caring-is further degraded. In short, the devaluing of caring contributes to the marginalization, exploitation, and dependency of care givers. Conversely, valuing and recognizing caring would raise the status and rewards of those who engage in it and also increase the incentives for other groups to engage in caring. Thus, a society that values care and caring relationships would be not only nicer and kinder, but also more egalitarian and just. Read more…

Categories: affect/care, migration, welfare

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “The Wives’ Movement”

January 23, 2011 1 comment

“The Wives’ Movement”

Sheila Fitzpatrick

From Chapter Six, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s, 1999. [PDF]

“Wives” were an almost unrecognized entity in the first decade and a half after the revolution. An emancipated woman did not define herself by her status vis-à-vis her husband but by her work and activity outside the home. Educated revolutionary women despised housework and tended to consider the upbringing of children as a community rather than family responsibility. For a woman to concern herself primarily with home and family was “bourgeois.”

Although housewives had the vote, they often seemed to be treated as second-class citizens. “Sometimes I thought that we housewives were not even considered human,” one woman complained. Another wrote:

In all my documents it says: housewife. It has been ten years since I graduated from high school and got married, and here I am still putting it down as my meaningful “occupation.” During the elections to the soviets I, a healthy young woman, was sitting together with the old people and retired invalids. I suppose that’s fair. I am “unorganized population.” [62] Read more…

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Categories: histories, housework

Factory of Found Clothes, Three Mothers and a Chorus // Три матери и хор

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Three Mothers and a Chorus

Factory of Found Clothes, Russia, 2007
33 minutes

The film has the structure of an ancient Greek tragedy. Mothers explain their problems and the chorus which is constructed of the typical social characters is judging her. The film is dedicated to contemporary motherhood.

Categories: child care, film

Joanne Richardson, Vieti Precare // Precarious Lives

January 19, 2011 1 comment

 Precarious Lives, 43 min, 2008.
A film by Joanne Richardson and Andreea Carnu (RO/USA).

An experimental documentary mixing archival footage of female labour over the past century with 10 portraits of Romanian women working in different jobs and in different countries today. The film seeks to challenge the dominant discourse about precarity (and about the precariat as the new proletariat) and the fact that it ignores differences based on gender, limited mobility, and the first and third worlds of Europe.

“Precarity: noun,
1. dependence on chance circumstances beyond control,  inability to plan one’s life
2. living without material or psychological security, stability and predictability
3. the widespread condition of flexible, intermittent, short-term and part-time work that characterizes post-Fordist capitalism?”(quote from the beginning of the film)

“As a noun, precarity does not exist. It is an adjective, modifying subjects, changing through circumstance. To understand what it means to be precarious, we must invert the theory, taking our own lives as a point of departure. To walk the streets that bring us together, and the routes that sometimes divide us. And while walking, to ask questions” (quote from the ending of the film)

Categories: film, precarity

Tracey Moffatt, Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy. Tracey Moffatt, AUS 1990, 19 min.

Sarcastically staged in the setting of the social solitariness of the Australian outback, an old invalid and a young female nurse act out this cinematic chamber piece. It is a horror-tragicomedy of domestic hand movements, mute sounds and noisy work about love and dependence. Night Cries tells about a relationship that is affected by the formation of a nation and the forced assimilation of the “Aborigines” that was practised until the 1970s, and can also be read as a pointed critique of colonialist ethnographic film, which traditionally addressed Aboriginal issues through idioms and conventions particular to naturalistic documentary filmmaking. [Marie-Hélène Gutberlet]


Categories: film, housework, race

Ousmane Sembene, La Noire de… [Black Girl]

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Ousmane Sembene, La Noire de… [Black Girl]

65 min, 1966. [imdb]

Read more…

Categories: film, housework, migration, race

Lara Vapnek, “Desires for Distance: White Working-Class Women’s Rejection of Domestic Service in the late 19th-century United States”

January 19, 2011 1 comment

“Desires for Distance: White Working-Class Women’s Rejection of Domestic Service in the late 19th-century United States”

Lara Vapnek, St. John’s University [PDF]

This paper examines several moments when the intimacy entailed in domestic service became a political issue. The first, and most sustained series of examples comes from post-Civil War Boston, where native-born, white working-class women characterized domestic service as an unacceptable compromise of their independence as American citizens. Female leaders of the post-Civil War labor reform movement such as Jennie Collins and Aurora Phelps developed this rejection into a broader critique of class relations. Their metaphors of “wage slavery” invite us to consider how gender, racial, and ethnic identities were constituted through the performance (or non-performance) of paid domestic labor. The second part of this paper considers how these issues played out during the remainder of the nineteenth century in working-class women’s continued associations of service and slavery, and in growing anxieties about ethnic and racial mixing in middle-class households. Together, the various pieces of this essay suggest how the category of intimate labor might reframe our understanding of the history of paid domestic labor in the United States. Read more…

Harry Cleaver, “On Self-valorization in Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s “‘Women and the Subversion of the Community'”

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“On Self-valorization in Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s ‘Women and the Subversion of the Community’ (1971)”

Harry Cleaver [Link]

One important limitation to Mariarosa’s essay, in my opinion, is its failure to directly address the issue of self-valorization, either in general, or in the specific case of women’s housework. “Self-valorization” is my translation of the Italian word autovalorizzazione. A more literal translation would be auto-valorization, but such a word is a bit weird in English so I prefer self-valorization even though it is a bit misleading. It is misleading for two reasons: first, because it is a term appropriated from Marx but changed in its meaning. Second, because the English prefix “self-” risks evoking the individual whereas the Italian prefix “auto” is less likely to do so and is more conducive to a more appropriate interpretation in terms not just of individuals but of groups and classes. Let me explain further.

In Marx the term self-valorization referred to the self-valorization of capital – everything involved in its expanded reproduction – which is most basically the expanded reproduction of the class relation but includes every element of that relation, e.g., every element that appears in his analysis of Volume I of Capital and reappear as moments of his analysis of the “circuits” or “reproduction schemes” of capital discussed at length in volume II of Capital, e.g., labor power, constant capital, money, exchange, work, commodities, and all the class antagonisms those elements embody and structure: exploitation, alienation and working class resistance and struggle. Capital successfully “self-valorizes” when it is able to juggle/manage the class relationships at all points sufficiently to achieve the expanded reproduction of those relationships.

When Italian autonomist Marxists, especially Toni Negri, appropriated the term “self-valorization” they changed its meaning from the expanded reproduction of capital to the autonomous, self-determination or self-development of the working class. The new use of the term was designed to denote working class self-activity that went beyond being merely reactive to capital, e.g., fighting back against exploitation, to denote working class self-activity that carried within it the basic positive, creative and imaginative re-invention of the world that characterized the “living labor” that capital-the-vampire has fed on but which is always an autonomous power that has frequently ruptured capital’s controls and limitations and that will ultimately, hopefully, be powerful enough to break free completely and craft new worlds beyond capitalism. Read more…

Harry Cleaver, “On Domestic Labor and Value in Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s ‘Women and the Subversion of the Community’ (1971)”

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“On Domestic Labor and Value in Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s ‘Women and the Subversion of the Community’ (1971)”

Harry Cleaver [Link]

A central point of Mariarosa’s analysis in “Women and the Subversion of the Community” is to argue that housework, or domestic labor, or for that matter any and all labor that produces and reproduces labor power is socially productive, i.e., produces value and surplus value. “We have to make clear,” she writes, “domestic work produces not merely use values, but is essential to the production of surplus value.” And a footnote adds: “What we meant precisely is that housework as work is productive in the Marxian sense, that is, is producing surplus value.” This is a claim which is asserted – in the section of the essay called “Surplus Value and the Social Factory” – but not really explored in her article. She demonstrates at length how housework produces a key element of capitalist society – labor power – but doesn’t do so, for the most part, in terms of value. It is also a claim that was, and remains, highly controversial (and one which Polda addressed in greater depth in her book – a treatment that I’m going to leave for future discussion).

The primary objection to this claim that housework produces value and surplus value derives, of course, from contrasting her assertion with Marx who treated the production of value and surplus value uniquely in the context of workers producing commodities for capital that are sold and on which a profit is realized. This objection, and the usual reading of Marx, however, usually doesn’t critically examine a key issue: what it means to “produce” value. Neither, of course, does Mariarosa in this essay. Read more…

David Roediger, “‘Slaving like a Nigger’: Irish Jobs and Irish Whiteness”

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

“‘Slaving like a Nigger’: Irish Jobs and Irish Whiteness”

David Roediger

From Chapter 7, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, 1991. [PDF]

In 1856, Henry C. Brokmeyer, then a wage-earning immigrant German molder in St. Louis, wrote in his diary a question posed about one of his German-American friends: ‘”Why doesn’t he learn . . . a trade; and he wouldn’t have to slave like a nigger? ‘ Brokmeyer, who was to become not only independent of wage work but eventually lieutenant governor of Missouri, had picked up a pattern of usage common in American English since the 1830s. [61] Not only was nigger work synonymous with hard, drudging labor but to nigger it meant ‘to do hard work’, or ‘to slave’. ‘White niggers’ were white workers in arduous unskilled jobs or in subservient positions. [62]

But not all European immigrants had the same prospects to ‘learn a trade’, let alone to acquire independence from ‘slaving like a nigger’, by owning a workshop or a farm. English and Scandinavian immigrants were especially likely to achieve such mobility, while the Irish and Germans faced most directly the question of how and whether their labor was different from ‘slaving like a nigger’. But the Irish confronted the question much more starkly. Both before and after the famine, they were far more likely than the Germans to be without skills. The famine Irish infrequently achieved rural land ownership. Within large cities Irish-American males were skilled workers perhaps half as often as German-Americans, and were unskilled at least twice as often. Although frontier cities, perhaps attracting Irish migrants with more resources and choices, showed less difference between Irish and German occupational patterns, the Irish stayed at the bottom of white society. [63] Read more…

Categories: histories, housework, race