Domestic labour and the capitalist mode of production : a theoretical and historical analysis

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Thomas, Carol
  • Subject: HN | HQ | HD

In advanced capitalist economies, a considerable\ud proportion of society's labour-power is expended in the\ud performance of unpaid labour in the household. The\ud domestic labour per formed in the homes of the working\ud class, mainly but not exclusively by women, is the subject\ud of this thesis.\ud Part One deals with theoretical questions\ud concerning the existence and nature of domestic labour as\ud a form of production. In it I attempt to develop a\ud Marxist, that is, a historical materialist, analysis of\ud domestic labour that suffers neither from functionalism\ud nor idealism. To a great extent, new theoretical analyses\ud grow out of the critique of already existing ones. The\ud chapters in Part One reflect this: I present a political\ud economy of domestic labour and an analysis of it's\ud historical origin in the context of a critique of both\ud Materialist Feminist theory and the Domestic Labour\ud Debate.\ud Part Two contains three studies in the\ud historical development of domestic labour in 19th and 20th\ud century Britain. Three themes are present throughout: the\ud changing nature of the domestic labour process and the\ud means of production employed; the relationship between\ud working class struggle and the development of household\ud labour; the relationship between the development of\ud domestic labour and the social position of women.\ud My analysis is based on the study of Marxist\ud political economy and secondary source research into the\ud history of wor king class household labour. It's\ud originality lies principally in it's method of approach.\ud To date, studies of domestic labour have generally\ud suffered from theoretical or empirical exclusivity. The\ud development of a detailed and rounded historical\ud materialist analysis through the interaction of historical\ud and theoretical research sets this thesis apart from\ud contributions to the Domestic Labour Debate and other\ud studies in the household labour studies tradition. This\ud approach has led to new conclusions in relation to the\ud political economy, the historical origin, and the\ud historical development, of domestic labour.
  • References (7)

    1. The Material Conditions of Life and the Reproduction of Labour-Power, 1800-1850 1. Degree of Participation by Husbands and Wives in Use- 227 Value Production and Services 3. Labour Force Participation Rates in Britain by Sex and 243 Marital Status, 1901-1951 4. Households Wired for Electricity, 1921-1961 248 5 . Percentage of Households Wired for Various appliances, 1938 6. Houses Built, Great Britain: 5 year averages, 1901-1938 251 7. The Size of Family by Marraige Cohorts, 1961-9 to 1830-4: England and Wales 278 Close, P. and Collins, R. (1983) 'Domestic Labour and Patriarchy: The Implications of a Study in the North-East of England', International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 3, 48-64.

    Close, P. and Collins, R., eds, (1985) Family and Economy in Modern Society, London: The Macmillan Press.

    Clo se, P. (1 985) 'Fam il y Form and Econom ic Prod uc tion', in P. Clo sea nd R. Co 11 ins, ed s, ( 1985 ) .

    Hawrylyshyn, o. (1976) 'The value of Household Services: A Survey of Empirical Estimates', Review of Income and Wealth, 22,101-131.

    Himmelweit, S. and Mohun, S. (1977) 'Domestic Labour and Capital', Cambridge Journal of Economics, 1, 15-31.

    Oakley, A. (1980) 'Reflections on the Study of Household Labour', in S.F. Berk, ed., (1980).

    Simeral, M. (1978) 'Women and the Reserve Army of Labour' , The Insurgent Sociologist, Fall, 82,164-179.

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