WSTA03H3 Study Guide - Marxist Feminism, Industrial Revolution, Proletariat

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Victoria Tahmasebi

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Marxist historical materialism says that every major change in production-from hunting and
gathering to farming to the industrial revolution-changes the social organization of work and
Marxist analysis of the social struc ture of capitalism was supposed to apply to people of any
social characteristics. If you owned the means of production, you were a member of the capitalist
class; if you sold your labor for a wage, you were a member of the proletariat.
Although Marx and other 19
centur y economic theorists recognized the exploitation of wives
domestic labor, it was Marxist feminism that put wives and mothers at the forefront of its analysis
of the gendered structure of capitalism
Wives and mothers are vital to capitalism, because their unpaid work in the home maintains
bosses and workers and reproduces the next generation of bosses and workers
Work in the marketplace and works in the home are inext ricably intertwined in a dual system of
capitalism and patriarchy. Because of their low value in the workplace, few can support
themselves and their children in capitalist economies, so marr iage or a mans financial help is an
economic necessity
Wife earns her husband economic support by doing house works and taking care of their children
Mother passes the role to their children teaching them roles that are expected for the future
survival in the economic society
Social reproduction, teaching children how to be members of society, and the domestic work of
maintaining a husband and children are significant, but invisible, parts of the economic process
Wives are the main part of a reserve army of labor, encouraged to work when the economy needs
more workers, fired when unemployment rises
Marxist feminist argue that this exploit ation of womens work, both at home and in the
workplace , is the prime source of gender inequality
Marxist argues 2 solutions to womens exploitation in capitalism: wages for housework and
government subsidization of wives and children.
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