Subordination presents a survey of some of the most important ideas developed within feminism since the 1970s. Among the central themes addressed are: the origins of women’s subordination; the private/public split; the nature and the role of domestic labour; the impact of psychoanalysis on feminist theory; the relationship between the State and women’s subordination. One of the book’s purposes is to draw together strands of thought and debate often kept separate.
Throughout, the major theoretical developments in Britain, the United States and Australia are reviewed within a comparative perspective. Consistently, the focus of attention is on how, and how far, theorists in these countries have been able to point to ways of explaining the changing but enduring nature of sexual inequalities.
Acknowledgements. Technical note. Introduction. 1. Engels, the search for origins, and feminist theory. Problems of historical reconstruction. Prehistoric origins 2. Engels, class and women. Class and women’s subordination. Lessons from classless societies. Conclusions 3. Public and private worlds. Radical feminism. Feminist-informed ethnography. Marxist-feminist and related approaches. The male wage labourer. Conclusions 4. Domestic labour and the political economy of women. Women as a structural group. The domestic mode of production. Domestic labour and capitalist production. Women, domestic labour and legitimation. Conclusions 5. Psychoanalysis, masculinity/femininity and the family. Juliet Mitchell and psychoanalysis. Freud, Lacan and feminist theory. Conclusions 6. An extended theory of social reproduction. Feminist theory and the state. The state and biological reproduction. Education and social reproduction. Conclusions. Notes. Bibliography. Index.