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Notes on Elder-Care Work and the Limits of Marxism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter calls for a redistribution of social wealth in the direction of elder-care, and the construction of collective forms of reproduction, enabling older people to be provided for, when no longer self-sufficient, and not at the cost of their providers' lives. Elder-care in capitalist society has always been in a crisis state, both because of devaluation of reproductive work in capitalism, and because the elderly, far from being treasured as depositories of collective memory and experience, as they were in many pre-capitalist societies, are seen as no longer productive. Feminists rejected the centrality, Marxism has historically assigned to waged industrial work and commodity-production as the crucial sites for social transformation, and they criticised its neglect of the reproduction of human beings and labour-power. As feminist economists have argued, the crisis of elder-care, whether considered from the viewpoint of the elders or their providers, is essentially a gender-question.

Keywords: capitalist society; elder-care; feminist economists; Marxism; waged industrial work



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