Public and private in feminist political thought

Valerie Bryson

in Gender and the politics of time

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9781861347503
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302391 | DOI:
Public and private in feminist political thought

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This chapter develops the idea of moving ‘beyond dichotomy’ to focus on feminist critiques of the conventional distinction between the public sphere (the sphere of politics and paid employment) and the private sphere (the sphere of the family and personal life). In revealing the interconnections that blur the public/private distinction, these critiques reveal both the domestic bases of men's privileges in the public sphere and the economic and civic importance of many community and domestic activities. The chapter argues that feminist politics should not only expose and challenge the current distribution of paid work, unpaid work, and free time, but should also insist that unpaid work, particularly time spent caring for others, must be properly valued and rewarded as a key contribution to the welfare of society.

Keywords: feminist critiques; political life; family life; feminist politics; free time; unpaid work

Chapter.  6735 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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