Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2020-03-01

Housework and Social Subversion: Wages, Housework, and Feminist Activism in 1970s Italy and Canada

Document type Thesis
Author Rousseau, Christina Adelina
Degree Ph.D., Humanities
Publisher York University; Toronto
Date 2015
Pages 318 pages
URL https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/33475

Abstract

My dissertation, Housework and Social Subversion: Wages, Housework, and Feminist Activism in 1970s Italy and Canada, presents a history of the Wages for Housework movements in Italy and Canada (1972-1978), looking at the parallel development of autonomist feminist politics in these locations. Based on a series of interviews with feminists involved in the movement, my dissertation highlights the significant political value in the way the groups theoretical perspective influenced our current understanding of social reproduction. Social reproduction refers to the unpaid activities associated with family and societal maintenance procreation, socialization, and nurturance as well as paid work in social sectors such as health care, education, childcare, and social services. In the context of Wages for Housework, my dissertation re-examines the movements understandings of wages, housework, and the gendered relations of production in the home. In critiquing the capitalist, patriarchal, imperialist nuclear family, they re-conceptualized wages and housework in a way that allowed for the uncovering of the most hidden aspect of housework: emotional labour and care. Looking at the parallel development of Wages for Housework movements in Italy and Canada, I also highlight the emergence of similar tensions regarding the demand for wages and the role of the working class housewife in their analyses. As Nicole Cox and Silvia Federici wrote, Our power as women begins with the social struggle for the wage, not to be let into the wage relation (for we were never out of it) but to be le out of it, for every sector of the working class to be left out of it (1975, 11). In light of the continued pervasiveness of care as work, this dissertation contributes to building a better understanding of social reproduction in a global context.