Social reproduction theory might be regarded as one of the most significant developments in radical theory in the 21st Century. It represents a renewed, synergistic relationship between Marxist and feminist theory after its antagonistic and agonistic relationship in the latter part of the 20th Century. It is at the root of a Marxist articulation of intersections between emancipatory struggles across a range of identities and critical positioning that has led to Marxism’s positioning as – in Holly Lewis’s framing – the Politics of Everyone’. This has involved addressing and reconceptualising oppressions based on identities and exclusions in concert with class exploitation constituted in the social relations of production.
Social reproduction theory promotes a politics of solidarity and the concerted connectivity of different struggles within a global capitalist system. Conceptually, it identifies reproductive functions and forms as critical to the reproduction of capitalist exploitations, accumulation and dispossession, in a dialectical rather than hierarchical relationship. Whilst there are conceptual questions of power, causality and ordering, social reproduction has been important in elucidating the maintenance and structuring of the concrete terms of capitalist oppression and the possibilities for change.
Social reproduction theory explicitly engages Marxists to reconsider features of contemporary politics that it has previously regarded as consequential or peripheral to resisting capitalist oppression. Post-pandemic, one of these areas is care. The exploitative mis/management of, strategic responses to and concrete experience of the pandemic has brought the issue of care back to a central place on political agendas. Whilst care policy has often been an adjunct to Marxist critiques of the state and social policy, the new prominence of care and early responses such as the Care Collective’s ‘Care Manifesto’ (2020) requires Marxists to engage with both policy and practice and the conceptualisation and theorising of care. This latter development presents new challenges for Marxists to draw from feminist, anti-racist and other radical engagements with vulnerability, abjection and care relationships
This strand welcomes papers or panels that:
- Provide applications of social reproduction theory to the contemporary critique of global capitalism, with particular focus on post-pandemic politics and increasing authoritarianism
- Provide new critical engagements with the political economy of welfare, social policy and state, private and voluntary forms of care provision
- Provide critical engagements of social reproduction theory with migration and refugee politics
- Provide critical engagement of social reproduction theory with the ecological crisis
- Provide new critical engagements with the politics of education and cultural politics
- Provide critical engagements with social reproduction theory as a framework for a renewed Marxist theory and politics