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Title: The political economy of reproduction : motherhood, work and the home in neoliberal Britain
Author: Barbagallo, Camille
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 6419
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis investigates how the processes and practices of reproduction have been transformed not only by the ascendant political rationality of neoliberalism but also by women’s struggles that have reconfigured motherhood, the domestic home and the gendered organisation of employment. Through exploring both the 1970s feminist demand for “free 24- hour nurseries” and the contemporary provision of extended, overnight and flexible childcare, care that is often referred to as “24-hour childcare”, the research contributes to feminist understandings of the gendered and racialised class dynamics inside and outside the home and the wage. The research repositions the ‘Woman Question’ as, yet again unavoidable and necessary for comprehending and intervening in the brutalising consequences of capitalist accumulation. Situated within the Marxist feminist tradition, the work of reproduction is understood as a cluster of tasks, affective relations and employment that have historically been constructed and experienced as ‘women’s work’. The interrelation between the subjectivity of motherhood and the political economy of reproduction is analysed through a feminist genealogy of 24-hour childcare in Britain. Using ethnographic encounters, archival research and interview data with mothers and childcare workers, the research tells a story about the women who have worked both inside and outside the home, raised children, cooked and cleaned, and who, both historically and in the present, continue to create an immense amount of wealth and value. As women's labour market participation has steadily increased over the last 40 years, the discourse of reproduction has shifted to one in which motherhood is increasingly constructed as a choice. Within neoliberal discourse the decision to have a child is constructed as a private matter for which individuals bear the costs and responsibility. The thesis argues that, as a result of motherhood being constructed more and more as something that is chosen, the spaces of resistance and opposition towards motherhood have been limited and resistance has been individuated and privatised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral