University of NSW
As part of the broader turn in critical scholarship away from materialist thinking in favour of postmodern constructionism, social reproduction theory was accused of being too broad, totalising, functionalist and biologically determinist. Perhaps most existentially, it was faulted for being unable to satisfactorily illuminate the complex interrelationship between race, class and gender. Originating in the ‘wages for housework’ activism of the 1970s, feminists utilising the theory sought to make legible the physical, emotional and affective labours that makes and remakes life as well as the reproduction of capitalism and its systems of class and gender oppression. But in recent years we have seen a curious return to questions of social reproduction. New theorising and recalibrations of earlier contributions and insights are emerging with powerful purchase in our contemporary moment. These re-engagements are indebted to the legacy of intersectionality within feminism/s and reflect transformations in global political economies of gender, migration and care work, the marketisation and commodification of reproductive labour, the thinning out of the welfare state and politics of austerity. These pose new challenges for the law in policing the production/reproduction boundary. Using the examples of on-demand domestic work in the gig economy and networked au pairing, I map how legacies of social reproduction have renewed promise to powerfully problematise boundaries between production/reproduction, workplace/household, worker/non-worker and help to make legible the position of new precarious labourers on the fringes of the market.
Angela Kintominas is a Scientia PhD Scholar at the Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney. Her research interests are in the intersections of gender, migration/mobilities and work/labour within the global political economy. Her doctoral thesis investigates the dilemmas of the law’s regulation of the continuum of reproductive labour. She is also a Research Associate with the Social Policy Research Centre exploring the gendered precarity of migrant grandparents on temporary visas, a Research Associate with the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative, and a Teaching Fellow at UNSW Law. Angela undertook her Master of Laws as a Lionel Murphy Scholar at Columbia University, New York, where she was awarded the Walter Gellhorn Prize for first place in her cohort. She is also an alumna of UNSW Sydney (BA (Hon 1), LLB (Hon 1)), where she graduated as Valedictorian.