The Battle within the Home

Jocelyn Olcott

in Workers Across the Americas

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199731633
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894420 | DOI:
The Battle within the Home

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Transnational labor history—and labor history more generally—has focused overwhelmingly on commodified labor, but the vast majority of the labor performed by women historically has been uncommodified. Most of this labor falls under the rubric of reproductive labor, the “caring” work that generally includes child care, housekeeping, food provision (often including subsistence agricultural production), and the maintenance of critical community networks. This chapter examines debates at the 1975 United Nations International Women's Year Conference, where policy makers and activists alike agreed that these labors remained the most imposing obstacle to women's emancipation. In the end, however, the Marxist and liberal perspectives that dominated the conference focused almost entirely on how to incorporate women into the “productive life” of commodified labor, failing to address the more challenging problem of alleviating women's reproductive-labor burden.

Keywords: United Nations; reproductive labor; women; International Women's Year; labor history; commodified labor

Chapter.  8697 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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