Women and Work

Women and Work

Feminism, Labour, and Social Reproduction

By Susan Ferguson



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This format can only be purchased within Canada.

With #metoo dominating headlines and an unprecedented number of women running for office, the fight for women’s equality has perhaps never been higher on the political agenda. Around the world, women are fighting against unfair working conditions, restrictive abortion laws, and the frayed social safety net. The same holds true within the business world—but there’s a twist: even as some women argue that pushing for more female CEOs would help the struggle for equality, other activists argue that CEOs themselves are part of the problem, regardless of gender.

In Women and Work, Susan Ferguson explores the history of feminist discourse, examining the ways in which feminists have conceptualized women’s work and placed labor, and its reproduction, at the heart of their program for emancipation. Engaging with feminist critiques of work, Ferguson argues that women’s emancipation depends upon a reorganization and radical reimagining of all labor, and advocates for an inclusive politics that reconceptualizes women’s work and work in general.


Shines a searching light on the interactions between class, race and gender in the reproduction of contemporary global capitalism. This book marks a milestone in socialist feminist theory.

– Ursula Huws, author of Labour in Contemporary Capitalism: What Next?

A crucial and much needed book. Analyzing more than two hundred years of feminist theorizing on work and oppression, Ferguson rigorously unpacks the dilemmas we face when we fail to problematize what work is, and what it should be to bring about freedom. Essential reading for socialist feminists.

– Sara Farris, author of In the Name of Women's Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism

Susan Ferguson’s attention to labour in the history of feminist thought is timely and urgent… scholars and students across disciplines will find here valuable insights into the history of feminist theory and social movements.

– Rosemary Hennessy, author of Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism

Susan Ferguson has been a leader in the efforts to develop social reproduction theory. With Women and Work, she now takes on the historical context for its development. Her focus on the history of the concept ‘labour’ in Marxist and feminist thought brilliantly reshapes our understanding of our past, present, and future

– Lise Vogel, author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women

Through an innovative interpretation of key historical and contemporary feminist texts, this compellingly written book offers socialist-feminist activists an excellent introduction to social reproduction theory and its political implications.

– Johanna Brenner, author of Women and the Politics of Class


1. The Labour Lens
2. Work, Character and Independence
3. Domestic Labour as Work
4. Emancipation Through Women’s Waged Labour?
5. A Political Economy of ’Women’s Work’: Producing Patriarchal Capitalism
6. Capitalism’s Complex Social Reproductive Labour: Forces of Dehumanization and Resistance
7. Productivist Feminism and Anti-Work Politics