Lise Vogel and the politics of women’s liberation

Issue: 144

Nicola Ginsburgh

A review of Lise Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory (Haymarket, 2014), £19.99

Growing anger and activism around the issue of women’s oppression have seen the return of many arguments from the 1970s and 1980s regarding the usefulness or otherwise of Marxist analysis in exploring this oppression.1 The reissuing of Lise Vogel’s work, originally published in 1983, though largely neglected at that time, is a welcome contribution to current debates. At the core of Vogel’s original text is an important argument that women’s social position can only be made sense of through analysing the social relations of exploitation and, specifically, the unique role of women and childbirth in reproducing the conditions that enable exploitation.

Vogel presents a persuasive materialist analysis of women’s oppression under capitalism, but her text suffers from a few minor faults. This review will argue that while Vogel convincingly argues against the theoretical dualism of socialist feminists and rightly sets out to construct a unitary theory of women’s oppression, she fails to to fully extricate herself from the limitations of socialist feminist approaches.

The way Vogel’s text is presented in the new edition is marked by the context of its reissue. In their introduction David McNally and Susan Ferguson highlight the work’s newfound popularity, arguing that, partially as a consequence of various women’s movements since the 1990s, postmodernism’s grasp on gender theory has been gradually loosened and materialist frameworks revitalised. Their summary of Vogel’s contribution is largely uncontroversial. But the new directions they suggest for developing “social reproduction theory” ultimately extend the weaker elements evident in Vogel’s analysis. McNally and Ferguson attempt to identify new trends in scholarship that address oppression and exploitation, and advocate synthesising work by a number of black feminists and David Roediger’s work on “whiteness” into a broader conception of social reproduction.

Ferguson and McNally’s emphasis on scholars such as Roediger and Patricia Hill Collins to provide the basis for this theoretical synthesis of gender and race within a materialist framework is problematic. Both Collins and Roediger have, in different ways, argued that layers within the working class are empowered through racial identification, which proves inimical to multiracial solidarity.2 Ferguson and McNally qualify their advocacy of Roediger by arguing that his work can be used to complement Marxist studies, such as Ted Allen’s on “the invention of the white race”. However, this seems bizarre, particularly as the latter has repeatedly and systematically criticised the theoretical foundations of Roediger’s approach.3 Ferguson and McNally’s “new agendas” ultimately prove to be an incongruous mish-mash of currently popular theories and idioms, rather than a serious discussion of how Vogel’s theory of social reproduction can be developed.

The nuts and bolts

In Capital Karl Marx argues that wage labour is the essence of the capitalist system: workers sell their labour power to capitalists in return for a wage. Labour power is “the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being…which he sets in motion whenever he produces a use value of any kind”.4 Labour power is essential to the capitalist system and must be reproduced. Vogel’s theory of social reproduction sets out to explain how this process occurs.

The bearers of labour power are human and as such require food and water, sleep and shelter. Vogel uses Marx’s concept of “individual consumption” to refer to such processes, which are essential for the direct producer to return to work. “Supplementary labour” refers to the processes that are essential for individual consumption to proceed—chopping firewood, making beds, cooking food, repairing clothes, etc.5 Along with the processes of recuperation and sustenance that occur on a daily basis and allow workers to return to work each day, the current workforce as a whole must also be reproduced in the long term. Supplementary labour therefore also needs to be performed in sustaining past and future workers—those too young, too old or too sick to work at a given point in time. More broadly, workers who become inactive or die need to be replaced by new workers. This can be achieved through generational replacement, the introduction of women or children into the workforce, or through acquiring outside sources of labour such as slaves or immigrants. While Vogel points to the macabre possibility that a group of workers may be worked to death and replaced by outside sources of labour—as they were in the gold mines in Roman Egypt, French Indochina’s rubber plantations and Nazi Germany’s Arbeitslager—it is more common for workers to be replaced generationally, as children are born, grow up and enter the workforce, taking the place of previous workers at the point of production.

It is this aspect of labour reproduction that lays the basis for the differential role of men and women in social reproduction:

If generational replacement is to happen, biological reproduction must intervene. And here, it must be admitted, human beings do not reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis [virgin birth]. Women and men are different…biological differences constitute the material precondition for the social construction of gender differences, as well as a direct material factor in the differential position of the sexes in a society.6

Generally women have a period of time during childbearing when their capacity to labour diminishes. Other adults, historically the biological father and his kin group, provide for the women during this time. While women are clearly not all continually pregnant, this nevertheless constitutes one of the bases for the different roles that are assigned to men and women, including the fact that supplementary labour has traditionally been more likely to be performed by women. But this biological function does not, in itself, constitute a source of oppression; it is through the contradictions that arise from the ruling class’s need to extract surplus labour and reproduce labour power that women’s oppression comes into being.7 Vogel explains:

Class struggle over the conditions of production represents the central dynamic of social development in societies characterised by exploitation. In these societies, surplus labour is appropriated by a dominant class, and an essential condition for production is the constant presence and renewal of a subordinated class of direct producers committed to the labour process. Ordinarily, generational replacement provides most of the new workers needed to replenish this class, and women’s capacity to bear children therefore plays a critical role in class society. From the point of view of social reproduction, women’s oppression in class societies is rooted in their differential position with respect to generational replacement processes.8

Under capitalism the ruling class’s need to appropriate surplus labour to create profit means the childbearing period, during which women’s capacity to labour diminishes, represents a potential costly loss of production in the short term. However, capitalists need this childbearing process to occur; otherwise sources of labour would dry up (unless extracted from slave or external migrant sources). Therefore, Vogel argues, “In class societies women’s childbearing capacity creates contradictions from the point of view of the dominant class’s need to appropriate surplus labour. The oppression of women in the exploited class develops in the process of the class struggle over the resolution of these contradictions”.9

Much of the argument thus far is formulated at a very general level, that of class society. But domestic labour and wage labour become increasingly polarised under capitalism as capitalists push to increase the extraction of surplus labour in the production process. The more time a wage labourer has to spend on supplementary labour, the less time can be spent working for the capitalist. The growing control over workers’ lives under wage labour separates the processes of labour power and its reproduction. The character of wage labour becomes distinct from the worker’s life outside of this process. This separation feeds into “powerful ideological structures, which develop a forceful life of their own”.10 Yet the division of men and women between these separate spheres is neither complete nor static:

Depending on the historical situation, either the role of the family as the site of generational reproduction, or the importance of women’s participation in surplus labour, or both, might be emphasised. During a period in which the ruling class’s need to maximise surplus labour overwhelms long-range considerations, all individuals in the exploited class might be mobilised into surplus production, causing severe dislocations in its institutions of family life and male dominance. It is in this context that ideologies naturalising women’s place in the home may come up against capital’s desire for female labour, meaning these processes may proceed with challenges from both men and women.11

Socialist feminism

Vogel sought through her theory of social reproduction to remedy deficiencies in socialist feminist currents that began to emerge from the 1960s, particularly those arising from debate on the role of domestic labour under capitalism. Specifically, in place of dual system theories, which see “two equally powerful motors driv[ing] the development of history: the class struggle and the sex struggle”,12 Vogel set out to construct a unitary theory that transcended the separation of production and reproduction.

The 1960s women’s movement erupted as changes in the position of women in employment and education came into conflict with supposedly archaic, but in fact relatively novel, family structures and gender roles. The Second World War had led to significant restructuring of the workforce as women flooded into wage labour to ease labour shortages. As men were demobilised after 1945 women faced pressure to leave the positions they had held during the war. But women were not successfully pushed back into pre-war work patterns, in part because the post-war boom created new labour demands. Whereas in the decades leading up to the war women in employment were usually young and unmarried, filling temporary positions, following the war many more married women and mothers worked on a semi-permanent basis. Yet these changing employment patterns were not universally welcomed, and an ideology that located women as a subservient element within the nuclear family forcefully reasserted itself.13 Another radicalising influence on activists was the pattern of social upheavals of the 1960s—including the civil rights, anti-war and black liberation movements and the French general strike of 1968. A layer of activists sought to root women’s liberation within the wider struggle for socialism and, by the 1970s, socialist feminists had constituted themselves as a distinct layer within the women’s movement.14

Socialist feminists immediately faced a number of questions of political orientation. Was the struggle for socialism distinct from the struggle for women’s liberation? If so, how did these struggles relate to each another, and how could the goals of both be pursued without subordinating one to the other? Moreover, was an autonomous movement of women required?

Socialist feminists sought to explain women’s oppression through a historical and materialist framework, while attempting to theorise a relationship between the processes of oppression and exploitation. This differentiated them from radical feminists, a section of the women’s liberation movement who saw the antagonisms between men and women embedded deeply throughout human history, and who emphasised the critical importance of sexuality, and the supposed ineffectiveness and irrelevance of socialism towards the goal of women’s liberation. It also differentiated them from liberal feminism, which concentrated on legal reform and political equality within the existing capitalist system. Socialist feminists tended to argue that women’s oppression operates relatively autonomously from capitalist exploitation. Women’s oppression was, for them, located in the sphere of reproduction, exploitation in the sphere of production. In such a dual systems perspective, the struggle against exploitation was regarded as related to but distinct from the struggle for women’s liberation.

Some socialist feminists went beyond simply identifying these two relatively autonomous spheres of exploitation and oppression, attempting to theorise the relationship between them through analysing the role of women in domestic labour. Margaret Benston in 1969, followed by Peggy Morton in 1971, laid out the basic principles of a materialist analysis of domestic housework.15 Both understood domestic labour as composed of material activities that result in products consumed within the household. The positive contribution of the domestic labour debate was the insight that the work that women did in the home sustained the household unit and enabled some of its members to go to work each day.16 It was generally agreed by those participating in the debate that domestic labour was essential for the reproduction of labour power and that domestic labour produced use values (concrete things that satisfy human needs or wants).

However, controversy arose over whether domestic labour produced surplus value, which forms the basis for profit under capitalism. Mariarosa Dalla Costa argued that women engaged in domestic work do produce surplus value because the services and products their labour creates is used to reproduce labour power—and under capitalism labour power is a commodity.17 Women, she argued, were the slaves of male wage slaves, with this primary slavery enabling the latter. Consequently, Dalla Costa saw housewives as exploited productive workers and her work inspired a small movement that demanded wages for housework.18

Further debate arose over whether domestic labour should be categorised as productive or unproductive labour. The distinction between productive and unproductive labour is traditionally understood as the distinction between labour that contributes to the creation of surplus value (productive) and labour that produces use values but not surplus value (unproductive).19 Theoretical ambiguity regarding the distinction between productive and unproductive labour plagued much Marxist scholarship in the 1970s.20 Conceptual confusion was aggravated through particular socialist feminists giving the terms “productive” and “unproductive” moral connotations.21 Unproductive was seen as synonymous with worthless, seemingly imbuing Marxist categories with a hidden sexist essence.

By the mid-1970s this debate had run out of steam and socialist feminists began to turn their attention to other issues. Vogel argues that, while the earliest observations made by Benston and Morton that domestic labour produced use values that are consumed within the household proved essentially correct, domestic labour does not produce exchange values, therefore neither does it produce value, nor can it be considered productive or unproductive.22

Defective formulations?

Ultimately, despite their intentions, the socialist feminists failed organically to link gender and class, production and reproduction, exploitation and oppression.23 Vogel attempted to theorise women’s oppression while avoiding the pitfalls and limitations inherent in the domestic labour debate. In particular, she formulated her theory by taking up and extending the categories elaborated by Marx in Capital.

But, controversially, Vogel also argued that the limitations of socialist feminist theory derived from what has often been seen as a key Marxist work on the question of women’s oppression: Frederick Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. This was, for Vogel, part of a wider set of problems in how the socialist movement engaged with women’s issues from Marx and Engels onwards.

Vogel’s analysis of the contribution of various 19th and 20th century socialists, which actually makes up much of the first two thirds of the book, is weak when compared to the final section elaborating her own theory of social reproduction. In particular, Vogel fails to engage with some important arguments made by Clara Zetkin and Lenin, as well as Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollontai and Leon Trotsky (the latter does not even warrant a mention), about the key role of the working class in obtaining women’s liberation. Each of these revolutionaries argued vociferously that it would be necessary for working class women to fight alongside working class men to achieve their own liberation.24 So, while Vogel criticises Zetkin’s focus on women solely as workers, arguing that this makes the wives and daughters of the working class who do not participate in wage labour invisible, she does not engage with the key argument Zetkin was making, namely that female workers gained collective power as part of the working class as they assumed a role in capitalist production.

Likewise, Vogel’s critical engagement with Marx and Engels is less impressive than her own positive contribution to the theory of women’s oppression. On the one hand, Vogel defends Marx and Engels from those who argue that they were simply trapped within the chauvinistic assumptions typical of men in Victorian Britain. She asserts that Marx and Engels had much more to say on the woman question than commentators have realised.25 But, on the other hand, Vogel is particularly disdainful of Engels’s Origin. While many of Vogel’s specific criticisms of Engels’s text are justified, her overall characterisation of Origin as a “defective text” is unnecessarily dismissive.

Engels wrote Origin over a period of a month in 1884, relying primarily on an anthropological text, Lewis Morgan’s Ancient Society, and some annotations and comments made by Marx before his death in 1883. Engels sought to show how kinship patterns changed and were shaped by developments in the mode of production. Crucially, Engels argued that women’s oppression came about at a particular historical juncture; the shift from subsistence to surplus-producing societies.26 While subsistence societies might be characterised by a division of labour between men, who focused on hunting and fishing, and women, who oversaw gathering and the household, the former did not carry greater importance than the latter. The equal importance accorded to hunting and gathering laid the basis for both men and women’s participation in collective decision making. Engels argued that oppressive relationships between men and women were absent in these societies; male supremacy only arose with the rise of class society. In primitive societies men owned the instruments necessary to hunt, fish, cultivate, etc, and therefore when production methods changed and societies began to produce a surplus, it was men who controlled that surplus. In order for men to pass on wealth to descendants, women needed to be tightly controlled. The origin of the monogamous family lay with the development of private property, and, with the advent of monogamous marriage, the nuclear family became the basic economic unit of society. Engels described this as “the world historic defeat of the female sex”; women had become “a mere instrument for the production of children” and were reduced to servitude to men.27

Engels located the rise of women’s oppression in the economic subjugation of women in the household. Thus Engels, as well as Marx, predicted that as capitalism drew women into wage labour, the working class family and women’s subjugation would be gradually eroded. Vogel is correct to point to this as an overly optimistic evaluation and she criticises Engels’s optimism on three counts:

First, it misses the significance of the working class household as an essential social unit, not for the holding of property but for the reproduction of the working class itself. Second, it overlooks the ways in which a material basis for male supremacy is constituted within the proletarian household. And third, it vastly underestimates the variety of ideological and psychological factors that provide a continuing foundation for male supremacy in the working class family.28

Furthermore, Vogel criticises Engels’s tendency to assume that “family duties” were naturally the province of women, his failure to link the development of the sphere of reproduction to the rise of capitalist society and his omission of the different character of oppression in pre-capitalist societies for women occupying different class locations.

Marx and Engels are, of course, not beyond reproach. Engels failed fully to theorise the character of women’s oppression under capitalism in Origin—but this was not Engels’s main intention in this work. Engels provides a historical account of the rise of the family as class society develops, rather than specifically setting out to theorise women’s oppression under capitalism, arguing that gender roles are social and historical rather than fixed transhistorical entities. Vogel in fact fails to grapple with the historical issue of the origins of women’s oppression. Thus, while she correctly argues that the family “is not a timeless universal of human society”, she fails to explain why or to explain when the family arose or how its form has changed alongside changes in the mode of production.

However, Vogel’s main issue with Origin is its supposed propagation of the dual systems perspective. Vogel accuses Engels of distinguishing between two types of production: first, the production of means of subsistence, and, second, the production of human beings. This theoretical dualism, she argues, ultimately bears responsibility for the dual systems perspectives of socialist feminism. In the offending passage Engels writes:

According to the materialistic conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of immediate life. This, again, is of twofold character: on the one side, the production of the means of existence, of food, clothing and shelter and the tools necessary for that production; on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social organisation under which the people of a particular historical epoch and a particular country live is determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour on the one hand and of the family on the other.29

Vogel argues that, positively, this stresses the materiality of the social processes women are involved in. But:

It implies that the production of human beings constitutes a process that has not only an autonomous character, but a theoretical weight equal to that of the production of the means of existence. In short, Engels’s remarks appear to offer authoritative Marxist backing for the socialist feminist movement’s focus on the family, sex-divisions of labour, and unpaid domestic work, as well as for its theoretical dualism and its strategic commitment to the autonomous organisation of women.30

Laying the responsibility for socialist feminists’ dual-systems theory at Engels’s door is unwarranted. Chris Harman has argued that, while the above passage, in truncated form, does appear to lend authority to a dual systems perspective, Engels actually went on to say that with the development of class society the two modes coexist less and less.31 Harman writes:

In fact, it is absolutely confusing to talk of “two modes”. The mode of production in any society is a coupling together of forces of production and relations of production. The first half of the couple is continually exercising pressure for change on the second half. Every increase in the ability of human beings to control nature produces new interrelations between the human beings themselves, and therefore begins to transform the pre-existing relations of production.32

Vogel wrongly characterises Engels as the root cause of the socialist feminists’ adherence to the dual systems perspectives. Socialist feminists’ attempts to theorise the continued existence of the oppression of women in Stalinist states that were widely believed to be socialist explains their attachment to dualism much more coherently than an isolated, decontextualised passage in Origin.

Vogel’s incomplete task

Vogel’s shared belief that such states were indeed socialist ultimately weakens her analysis of the capitalist form which is central to her book, and consequently she is unable fully to overcome the dualism of socialist feminists. These weaknesses are most evident in her discussion of strategy. Vogel poses the question by looking at the gap between women’s formal equality and social equality. Under capitalism a particular conception of equality emerged. In a famous passage from Capital Marx put it thus:

The sphere of circulation or commodity exchange, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. It is the exclusive realm of Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, let us say of labour power, are determined by their own free will. They contract as free persons who are equal before the law. Their contract is the final result in which their joint will finds a common legal expression. Equality, because each enters into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent.33

Value, determined by abstract human labour, eschews the differences between types of labour; labour is abstracted within the commodity. Capitalism equalises human labour through the exchange of commodities. However, behind this formal equality, which characterises the sphere of circulation, stands the deep economic and social inequality of class exploitation in the sphere of production. Yet, because this conception of equality has material roots in capitalism, Vogel writes that “equality of persons is not…simply an abstract political principle or a false ideology…far from a useless exercise in bourgeois reformism, the battle for democratic rights can point beyond capitalism”.34

Vogel argues that the tensions between demands for formal equality and real social inequality form the “basis for the development of a woman’s movement oriented toward socialism”,35 and goes on to argue that the left has failed to intervene in these struggles successfully. She argues that this is because socialist and socialist feminist approaches have focused on women at work and domestic labour, which has produced an economistic and reductive analysis. This orientation, she argues, “fails to account for the oppression of women not in the working class, and cannot explain the potential for building progressive women’s organisations that cross class divisions, nor the possible obstacles to uniting women from distinct racial or national groups into a single women’s movement”.36

The answer to this conundrum for Vogel is “analysing how a broad based women’s liberation movement may represent an essential component in the fight for socialism”. Vogel understands that women’s liberation is tied up with the fight for socialism, postulating that “so long as capitalism survives, domestic labour will be required for its reproduction, disproportionately performed by women and most likely accompanied by a system of male supremacy”.37

Vogel’s preference for cross-class alliances of women is informed both by her experience of the women’s movement in the US and by her understanding of women’s oppression in “actually existing” socialist societies. First, in the US the women’s movement was largely composed of such cross-class alliances. It had a decidedly different character from the British women’s movement, which had a greater orientation on the working class and trade unions. Second, Vogel’s classification of countries such as China, Cuba and the Soviet Union as socialist hamstrings some of her best insights. She argues that while supposedly socialist societies have made important advances with regard to women’s participation in production and political life, they have not been able to shift the burden of housework or systematically alleviate women’s subordination. For Vogel, “socialism” has not precipitated the erosion, and eventual abolition, of women’s oppression in such societies and, consequently, a distinct movement for women’s liberation becomes necessary. Therefore, while repeatedly criticising the tendency of socialist feminists to treat the fight for socialism and women’s liberation as autonomous spheres, Vogel ends up advocating a strategy that tacitly replicates this dualism.

The IS tradition

Tony Cliff’s theory of state capitalism allowed the International Socialist tradition to explain quite simply how women’s oppression could exist in socialist countries: it doesn’t. By identifying the countries in question as state capitalist, this tradition was able to avoid the theoretical quagmire entered by those defending the socialist credentials of the Soviet Union and similar Stalinist states. Moreover, the importance of women becoming workers and the impact this would have on the family and the relationships between men, women and children is a key insight of Marx and Engels that Vogel misses, but which was taken up by this tradition.

The general trends reveal growing employment rates for women throughout the century (see table). While the number of women in part-time employment has hovered around 42 to 45 percent for the past 30 years, the number of women in full-time employment has increased. The growth of service industries, typically staffed by women, and the decline of manufacturing, dominated by men in the 20th century, contributed to these trends.

Employment rates for men and women aged 16 to 64, 1971 to 2013, UK (includes part and full time work)

Source: Labour Force Survey, ONS

Percentage (seasonally adjusted)
Men Women
Jan-Mar 1973 91.8 54.2
Jan-Mar 1983 77.8 53.8
Jan-Mar 1993 75.2 61.6
Jan-Mar 2003 79.0 66.4
Apr-Jun 2013 76.2 66.7

Women, therefore, have increasingly become an important part of the workforce, eroding the atomisation of women in individual households. This experience in the workplace has changed women’s expectations, feeding into demands for greater equality. Thus, while Vogel advocates cross-class alliances and criticises the left’s focus on women at work, in our tradition we have defended a focus on women as workers, recognising both the importance of women becoming social beings outside of the household and the central role of the working class in achieving real liberation for all women. That does not mean abstaining from other, limited and partial, struggles against women’s oppression or failing to engage with feminist currents. But it is only through men and women acting together as part of the working class that oppression can ultimately be smashed.

Whether working class men could ever be part of the struggle to emancipate women informed the debate over “male benefits” (a debate magnified out of all proportion by critics of the International Socialist tradition) in which Lindsey German, Sheila McGregor and Chris Harman argued against the position held by feminists and socialist feminists that all men benefit from women’s oppression and therefore have an interest in defending the system of male supremacy.38 It was argued that the main beneficiary of women’s oppression was not men, but capital. This claim did not involve a denial that men have advantages over women in society, but rather involved recognising that these divisions work against the class interests of both men and women. As German put it:

Whatever advantages working class men might have, their interests, just like those of working class women, lie in joining the fight against women’s oppression. This is because the roots of women’s oppression lie in class society in general and capitalist society in particular… The capitalist system rests on the exploitation of workers, both men and women. Women workers also suffer a specific oppression which is located in the continuing privatised reproduction of labour power. This points to a solution which involves collective working class action.39

We cannot rid the world of women’s oppression without also ridding it of the capitalist system that sustains it. Divisions in the ranks of labour, whether through gender, race or nationality, strengthen capital’s power over us. It is only through collective working class action across these divisions that exploitation, and the oppression it gives rise to, can be eradicated.

Despite the criticisms of Marxism and the Oppression of Women set out here, the book does present a sophisticated theoretical basis for understanding women’s oppression under capitalism. Ultimately Vogel’s softness towards Stalinism, the high level of abstraction at which she develops her arguments, and her dismissive attitude towards certain key insights made by the socialist tradition undermine her ability to explore the origin of, or changes to, women’s oppression, and lead her to orientate on cross-class alliances of women. Nonetheless, Vogel deserves to be read and critically utilised by all those seeking to understand and challenge women’s oppression.


1: Thanks to Paul Blackledge, Sally Campbell, Joseph Choonara, Sheila McGregor and Jenny Sullivan for comments on earlier drafts of this review.

2: For a critique of such approaches, see Choonara and Prasad, 2014.

3: Allen, 2001.

4: Marx, 1976, p270.

5: Vogel, 2013, p149.

6: Vogel, 2013, pp146-147.

7: Vogel, 2013, pp152-153.

8: Vogel, 2013, p135.

9: Vogel, 2013, p153.

10: Vogel, 2013, p160.

11: Vogel, 2013, p155-156.

12: Vogel, 1995, p35.

13: Vogel, 2013, p3.

14: Vogel, 2013, pp4-6.

15: Benston, 1969; Morton, 1970.

16: Vogel, 2013, p21.

17: Dalla Costa and James, 1972.

18: Vogel, 2013, pp20-21. For brief critiques of the demand for wages for housework see the debates between Dallas and Hamilton, 1976, and Bruegel, 1976a; 1976b.

19: Marx, 1976, p644.

20: For instance, the Greek Eurocommunist Nicos Poulantzas not only argued that only productive workers could be considered part of the working class, but narrowed his definition of productive workers essentially to reduce it to manual, blue collar workers. See Poulantzas, 1973. For criticism see Wood, 1986, p37; McClaverty, 2005, p50; Harvey, 1982, p105.

21: Vogel, 2013, p22.

22: While making similar points to Vogel, Lindsey German puts a different slant on the argument: “Domestic labour can be seen to be indirectly productive of surplus value, through being directly productive of labour power. This feature is important in order to retain what is central to the domestic labour debate, and to draw the correct conclusions from it. The two dominant strands of the debate in fact lead to wrong conclusions: either to the wages for housework campaign espoused by Selma James, or to the idea that the use values produced by the housewife have little to do with commodity production or indeed capitalism…the housewife produces only use values; but these in turn affect the value of labour power… Domestic labour exists in the form that it does precisely because of wage labour and commodity production”-German, 1989, pp72-73.

23: Vogel, 2013, p29. See also German, 1981 and 1989.

24: See Cliff, 1984, pp67-109.

25: Vogel, 2013, pp36-38.

26: For a detailed defence of Engels’s argument, see McGregor, 2013.

27: Engels, 1972, pp120-121.

28: Vogel, 2013, pp88-89.

29: Engels, 1972, pp71-72,

30: Vogel, 2013, pp33-34.

31: Harman, 1984, p16. The quote from Engels is followed by this passage: “The old society, built on groups based on ties of sex, bursts asunder in the collision of the newly developed social classes; in its place a new society appears, constituted in a state, the lower units of which are no longer groups based on ties of sex but territorial groups, a society in which the family system is entirely dominated by the property system, and in which the class antagonisms and class struggles, which make up the content of all hitherto written history, now freely develop.”

32: Harman, 1984, pp16.

33: Marx, 1976, p280.

34: Vogel, 2013, pp171-172.

35: Vogel, 2013, p175.

36: Vogel, 2013, p176.

37: Vogel, 2013, p176.

38: See German 1981, 1986; Harman, 1984, and McGregor, 1985.

39: German, 1986, p138.


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