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