Roots of Social Reproduction Theory in Marx and Engels: A Total Analysis of Society and Life
Pages 53-82| Published online:31 Aug 2022
Yaman, Melda. 2022. “Roots of Social Reproduction Theory in Marx and Engels: A Total Analysis of Society and Life.” Marxism & Sciences 1(2): 53–82. https://doi.org/10.56063/MS.2208.01207.
The social reproduction theory aims to construct a total analysis of the production of things and the production and reproduction of people. Therefore, it broadens social production by including the care and reproduction work—by women—rather than just seeing it as capital accumulation/commodity production and reproduction of capital. Social reproduction theory is a materialist theory of (social) life and has its roots in Marxism. Historical materialist premises provide both a materialist explanation of social reproduction and women’s role in it and a ground for the struggle with capitalism and patriarchy. In this paper, I will argue that the materialist conception of history and methodology that Marx and Engels developed in The German Ideology establishes the ground for social reproduction theory. For this, I will show that, first, their consideration of human beings as the product of their own labor, second, their evaluation of the production and reproduction of the human being as one of the three moments of history, and third, their thinking of human relations in a broader sense—Verkehr are significant contributions to social reproduction theory. I will also argue that social reproduction theory makes an essential contribution to rebuilding the Marxist conception of totality based on a materialist conception of history and materialist dialectics to encompass the entire life and society, by expanding the concept of labor, putting the production and reproduction of life at its center, and including reproduction work that is overwhelmingly performed by women.
KEYWORDS: Social reproduction, The German Ideology, The Origin, materialist conception of history.
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