The Other Side of the Paycheck: Monopoly Capital and the Structure of Consumption


  • Batya Weinbaum
  • Amy Bridges



Feminism, Philosophy, Political Economy, Labor


The housewife is central to understanding women's position in capitalist societies. Marxists expected that the expropriation of production from the household would radically diminish its social importance. In the face of the household's continuing importance, Marxists have tried to understand it by applying concepts developed in the study of production." Yet obviously, the household is not like a factory, nor are housewives organized in the same way as wage laborers. As Eli Zaretsky has written, the housewife and the proletarian are the characteristic adults of advanced capitalist societies." Moreover, households and corporations are its characteristic economic organizations. Just as the socialization of production has not abolished the housewife, so accumulation has not abolished the economic functions of the household. Harry Braverman has demonstrated how the accumulation process creates new occupational structures, and he has documented the expansion of capital's activity to new sectors. We will argue that these developments also change the social relations of consumption, an economic function which continues to be structured through the household and performed by women as housewives.

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