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Householding and social reproduction

Comment on Newberry and Rosen

Deborah James

The central premise of this article can hardly be questioned: that the theoretical discussion of reproductive labor is “unfinished.” Whether one calls it unpaid work, unfree labor, care, or social reproduction, the topic seems increasingly to demand (and increasingly receive) more attention. This seems to be ever more the case as we move ever further away from the decades when the postwar consensus, established especially in Northern European countries, held sway. The imposition, by various regimes, of harsh austerity measures on their populations also makes this a key scholarly concern. Jan Newberry and Rachel Rosen’s contention that much of the burden of such work is increasingly taken up by women also seems well taken, if uncontroversial. Their observations about “familialization” and the “re-traditionalizing” of certain aspects of reproduction squares with the claim by Wendy Brown that women’s work intensifies under neoliberal capitalism, as states withdraw the provision of facilities for those who “cannot be responsible for themselves”; and indeed that women—in the face of the disappearance of the necessary infrastructure—become that infrastructure (2015: 105). If we add financialized debt into the mix, such points also echo the findings of scholars in diverse settings who have shown that women are frequently prime targets for microfinance and other kinds of moneylending (Guérin 2019; Han 2012; Kar 2018). But it is at the point that children and issues of temporality are added into an already heady theoretical brew that I find myself parting company with the vision of the authors.

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Tania Murray Li

In this essay I briefly explore three themes I find important for an engaged anthropology of development. First, social reproduction: Anthropologists have a long track record of examining processes of social reproduction—how it is that particular patterns of inequality are actively sustained through practices and relations at multiple scales (Smith 1999).

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Olga Nieuwenhuys

Having worked on children’s labor of reproduction from the very beginning of my career as an anthropologist, Jan Newberry and Rachel Rosen’s piece, which engages with the complex and thorny issue of “women and children” from a feminist framework, intrigued me. The piece is interesting because it contributes to resuscitate social reproduction theory, a conceptual framework that has only recently been rescued from the academic limbo to which it had been relegated since the 1980s under the influence of postmodernist critique. This influence has resulted for children in an overstated focus on the individual child’s agency that evades altogether addressing children’s roles in the wider political economy. But can returning to the notion of social reproduction fill the gap? I suggest that, though Newberry and Rosen enrich the theory with such notions as “temporality” and “financialization,” the conceptual framework remains too abstract to account for children’s role. I begin describing my personal experience with social reproduction, which started in in the 1970s, to then discuss Newberry and Rosen’s proposal to revive the notion. I argue that the proposal overstates the role of women in social reproduction and suggest three lines of enquiry that may help better acknowledge what children, among others, contribute. I finally discuss why I feel social reproduction theorizing may benefit from thinking in terms of a “global womb” in which children and women find themselves, both socially and geographically, locked.

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Hadas Weiss

function on any other level. Meillassoux made it his life’s work to foreground production and its counterpart, social reproduction, as touchstones for explaining all other social phenomena. Yet, the face of anthropology has not been changed, while

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Ryan Gunderson

Ingolfur Blühdorn (2007: 272) described a paradox that deserves more attention in the environmental social sciences: Why are we sustaining “what is known to be unsustainable”? What allows for the reproduction of the ecologically unsustainable

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The Socio-Demographic Situation in the Republic of Tuva

Conditions of Social Transformation, 1990s–early 2000s

Zoya Dorzhu

Translator : Jenanne Ferguson

, this has not been enough to expand the reproduction of the population. Unfortunately, quantitative fertility is not always accompanied by qualitative changes in the social sphere. As a result, indicators of social disadvantage have remained strong. In

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Closeness and critique among Brazilian philanthropists

Navigating a critical ethnography of wealth elites

Jessica Sklair

social responsibility with which I am concerned, of the historical reproduction of inequalities by the family’s firm at a local level (and I explore the necessity of this absence if the family’s narrative is to serve its purpose in relation to its

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Alejandro Miranda

the “circuits of reproduction” proposed by Shove and colleagues, 42 or the “immutable mobiles” advanced by Bruno Latour 43 and John Law and Annemarie Mol, 44 the articulation of elements shapes the contours of socially recognized practices. A less

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Miley, What’s Good?

Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, Instagram Reproductions, and Viral Memetic Violence

Aria S. Halliday

the twenty-first century. Through the symbolic meaning-making of virally circulated images, social media has become a site of reproduction and consumption, desire and misery for Black girls and women in the US—a technological auction block where their

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Girls’ Work in a Rural Intercultural Setting

Formative Experiences and Identity in Peasant Childhood

Ana Padawer

, with an emphasis on the processes of the appropriation of membership resources where successive generations had built changed frontiers. My interest has been in how activities tied to social reproduction fit into these ethnic identity-building processes