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Family, Welfare, and the State: Between Progressivism and the New Deal

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by Mariarosa Dalla Costa

Common Notions

2015, paperback

SKU: 9781942173014


Written in the ten years following the publication of The Power of Women and the Subversion of Community (1972) and the international organizing efforts of the Wages for Housework Campaign, Mariarosa Dalla Costa's Family, Welfare, and the State reflects on the history of struggles around the New Deal in which workers' initiatives forced a new relationship with the state on the terrain of social reproduction. Were the New Deal and the institutions of the welfare state the saviors of the working class or were they the destroyers of its self-reproducing capacity?

By analyzing the relationship of women and the state, Dalla Costa offers a comprehensive reading of the welfare system through the dynamics of resistance and struggle, the willingness and reluctance to work inside and outside the home, and the relationship with the relief structures that women expressed in the United States during the Great Depression.

Three decades later, revisiting the origins of this system on a sociopolitical level--its policies governing race, class, and family relations, especially in terms of the role that was delegated to women's labor power--remains vital for a deeper understanding of the historical relationship between women and the state, crisis and resistance, and possibilities for class autonomy.

Preface by Silvia Federici.

Mariarosa Dalla Costa is an influential feminist author and activist, whose seminal book The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, coauthored with Selma James, has been translated into six languages. For decades, Dalla Costa has been a central figure in the development of autonomist thought in a wide range of anticapitalist movements. She is the editor of Gynocide: Hysterectomy, Capitalist Patriarchy and the Medical Abuse of Women.

Silvia Federici is Associate Professor of International Studies and Political Philosophy at New College, Hofstra University. She is a founding member and coordinator of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. Among her works are Enduring Western Civilization: The Construction of the Concept of Western CivilizationCaliban and the Witch and Revolution at Point Zero.