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Social Reproduction in the 21st Century
Mon, August 3, 2020 @ 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM$6.00 – $9.00
with Ursula Huws
Please note the meeting time, as the Socialist Reader discussion group will be convening at 3:30 pm in order to ensure that Ursula can join us from London.
In the 2020 Socialist Register “a number of the essays interrogate central dimensions of how we live and how we might live in terms of educating our children, housing and urbanism, accommodation of refugees and the displaced, and (to lean on that all too common phrase) the competitive time pressures for ‘work-life balance’. These are all key questions, of course, of ‘social reproduction,’ a theme that has cut across many volumes of the Register. They are the counterpoint to ‘economic reproduction’ and ‘how we work’ at the heart of several essays here. Today, this involves exploring and exposing all the hype and contradictions of the so-called ‘gig economy,’ where automation’s potential for increased time apart from work is subordinated to surveillance, hazardous waste, speed-up, and much else that makes for contingent work and precarious living. Finding new ways of living cannot but confront both these obstacles.”
As capital commodifies and marketizes social reproduction labor and the time squeeze on households is intensified, the contribution to this year’s Socialist Register by Ursula Huws is of highest importance. She is very effective in laying out the divisions of our labor into six areas as we approach the third decade of the 21st Century — 1) Unpaid labor in the home and community such as reproduction of the basic needs within famiies; 2) Paid private service work in homes or farms—servant labor; 3) Paid private service work within capitalist firms e.g., shops, hotels, cleaning companies, etc.; 4) Paid public service work providing and maintaining public services; 5) Paid labor for production of commodities for the market; and, 6) Unpaid labor in the home and community—consumption labor. Ursula states that “Consumption labor does not produce surplus value directly, but is implicated in the externalization of tasks formerly carried out by paid workers and could thus be regarded as contributing indirectly to the exploitation of the labor of productive workers.”
Ursula Huws is Professor of Labor and Globalization at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK and the author of Reinventing the Welfare State from Pluto Books this coming September along with Labor in Contemporary Capitalism: What Next? recently published by Palgrave Macmillan. The Marxist Education Project presented a class where we read her Monthly Review Book, Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age in the fall of 2015.
All tickets are sliding scale. No one is denied admission for inability to pay.