Publisher: Common Notions
Released: July 1, 2015
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.