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Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour

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This now classic book traces the social origins of the sexual division of labor. It gives a history of the related processes of colonization and "housewifization" and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labor and the role that women have to play as the cheapest producers and consumers. First published in 1986, it was hailed as a major pa This now classic book traces the social origins of the sexual division of labor. It gives a history of the related processes of colonization and "housewifization" and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labor and the role that women have to play as the cheapest producers and consumers. First published in 1986, it was hailed as a major paradigm shift for feminist theory. Eleven years on, Maria Mies' theory of capitalist patriarchy has become even more relevant; this new edition includes a substantial new introduction in which she both applies her theory to the new globalized world and answers her critics.


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This now classic book traces the social origins of the sexual division of labor. It gives a history of the related processes of colonization and "housewifization" and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labor and the role that women have to play as the cheapest producers and consumers. First published in 1986, it was hailed as a major pa This now classic book traces the social origins of the sexual division of labor. It gives a history of the related processes of colonization and "housewifization" and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labor and the role that women have to play as the cheapest producers and consumers. First published in 1986, it was hailed as a major paradigm shift for feminist theory. Eleven years on, Maria Mies' theory of capitalist patriarchy has become even more relevant; this new edition includes a substantial new introduction in which she both applies her theory to the new globalized world and answers her critics.

30 review for Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour

  1. 4 out of 5

    Quin Rich

    An interesting but ultimately underwhelming and dated account of the interrelation between global capitalism, patriarchy, and environmental destruction. While Mies' project is ambitious and at points compelling, it falls flat at several key points. In particular, she is generally dismissive of the historical force of white supremacy (speaking only briefly about race and focusing on a first/third world dichotomy that neglects racial inequality within each sphere), antagonistic to the rights of se An interesting but ultimately underwhelming and dated account of the interrelation between global capitalism, patriarchy, and environmental destruction. While Mies' project is ambitious and at points compelling, it falls flat at several key points. In particular, she is generally dismissive of the historical force of white supremacy (speaking only briefly about race and focusing on a first/third world dichotomy that neglects racial inequality within each sphere), antagonistic to the rights of sex workers, glosses over real differences between women, and lapses regularly into romanticizing and orientalizing residents of the Global South. Her major argument (that women are defined as housewives and into the "informal" sector) is useful, but is really only a starting point. Much needed supplementary reads include Silvia Federici's Caliban and the Witch and Revolution at Point Zero, Chandra Mohanty's Feminism without Borders, Ariel Salleh's Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice, and Angel Davis's classic Women, Race, & Class

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adungo’si Ikol

    Finally finished "Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale" This is a book I'm going to rank up there with other books that have changed my thinking and perspective like: "How the West Underdeveloped Africa" "Black Skin, white Masks" "Guns germs and Steel" "Cannibals and Kings" "Sapiens: A brief history of Mankind" I have always thought that patriarchy wasn't just about men oppressing and purveying violence against women for the sake of it, but rather because of a systematic anomaly that is held u Finally finished "Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale" This is a book I'm going to rank up there with other books that have changed my thinking and perspective like: "How the West Underdeveloped Africa" "Black Skin, white Masks" "Guns germs and Steel" "Cannibals and Kings" "Sapiens: A brief history of Mankind" I have always thought that patriarchy wasn't just about men oppressing and purveying violence against women for the sake of it, but rather because of a systematic anomaly that is held up by the establishment. But the Author actually explains this concept with the most insight I have ever witnessed. Maria Mies, traces violence against women from hunter gatherer societies, through the agrarian revolution, medivial times, slavery, colonialism and neoliberalism and shows how it's all connected to capitalism and accumulation and division of labor in a way that those who produce nothing, yet hold the monopoly of violence can appropriate other people's productivity. She meticulously builds the idea that patriarchy isn't just about the oppression of women per se but rather the oppression of everyone and with women taking the brunt of it. She has great insights about the housewifation of women and how the system has been built to intentionally refuse to acknowledge the value of domestic work, by painting the false notion of "man the bread winner" and the concept of "love" where a woman's labor will not be monetized because of the fallacious of the idea that she has to do it out of love, family or duty. But the best part of this book is Maria's own critique of of the shortcomings of many feminist movements, especially their inability to focus on the the Capitalistic part of patriarchy and their failure to address slavery, colonialism and race divisions. In simple words, white women should face the fact that in as much as they have fought for their own liberation, they have inadvertently supported the same system that oppresses non white and especially black women. I will not spoil for any potential reader what insights Maria has on the culture of rape and sexual subjugation of women. But I honestly understand how the system has made men believe they hold a say over a woman's body and also, the bias of sexual exclusivity against women. In other words, why a man is expected to express his sexual pursuits heroically yet a woman should be ashamed of hers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maja Solar

    Although the insights of Maria Mies are valuable and significant, especially some historical researchs (the witch hunt related to capitalist accumulation, the bride-price system in India, etc.), there are problems with the conceptual framework of this book: from the Marxist point of view, Sombart was wrong when he claimed that capitalism emerged from a luxury (Cf. Ellen Meiksins Wood); Marx's „bourgeois sentimentalism“ has nothing to do with proletarian antifeminism; no, the proletarians have no Although the insights of Maria Mies are valuable and significant, especially some historical researchs (the witch hunt related to capitalist accumulation, the bride-price system in India, etc.), there are problems with the conceptual framework of this book: from the Marxist point of view, Sombart was wrong when he claimed that capitalism emerged from a luxury (Cf. Ellen Meiksins Wood); Marx's „bourgeois sentimentalism“ has nothing to do with proletarian antifeminism; no, the proletarians have no real material interest in „the domestication of their female class companions“, although they may have been convinced &behave as they have, but in the structural sense, for them is actually irrelevant whether the housework is performed by their wives or a social institution.... See the key point in Cinzia Arruza's text „Remarks on Gender“: „A man would lose nothing, in terms of workload, if the distribution of care work were completely socialized instead of being performed by his wife. In structural terms, there would be no antagonistic or irreconcilable interests. Of course, this does not mean that he is aware of this problem, as it may well be that he is so integrated into sexist culture that he has developed some severe form of narcissism based on his presumed male superiority, which leads him to naturally oppose any attempts to socialize care work, or the emancipation of his wife. The capitalist, on the other hand, has something to lose in the socialization of the means of production; it is not just about his convictions about the way the world and his place in it, but also the massive profits he happily expropriates from the workers.“

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stan

    One of the most important books I've read. Unfortunately awful title might conceal an engagingly written merger of radical feminism, ecology, and world systems theory.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji

    An enlightening read that touches on key concepts of feminism such as women exploitation/oppression/subordination, capitalist patriarchy and women autonomy. The book also delves into the origins of the sexual divisions of labour, the colonization of women and their housewifization and violence against women with a focus on India on this regard. In conclusion she tries to build a feminist perspective for the future mind you the book was written in the mid 80s.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    For being an academic book, Mies writes clearly and uses very concrete examples that make her point easy to understand. This book is central to my research, but anyone interested in seeing history in a new way can really appreciate it. My only complaint is that chapter after chapter is a little redundant. This is a book that you could really just read the second and third chapters to summarize her argument.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sara Salem

    A classic on Marxist feminism. So good!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    The title does not do this book justice. It’s a classic for a reason. There’s serious life changing stuff in here. Read this book!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Anderson

    Marxist feminists like Maria Mies and Silvia Federici (Caliban and the Witch) have made invaluable contributions to marxist theory with their demonstration of the crucial role of the subjugation of women in the development and perpetuation of capitalism, or capitalist patriarchy as Mies described it. Their insights led to the flowering of other theoretical developments, such as contemporary Social Reproduction theory, which seeks to reveal the ways in which daily and generational reproductive la Marxist feminists like Maria Mies and Silvia Federici (Caliban and the Witch) have made invaluable contributions to marxist theory with their demonstration of the crucial role of the subjugation of women in the development and perpetuation of capitalism, or capitalist patriarchy as Mies described it. Their insights led to the flowering of other theoretical developments, such as contemporary Social Reproduction theory, which seeks to reveal the ways in which daily and generational reproductive labor, found in households, schools, hospitals and prisons, also sustains the drive for accumulation. Mies’s classic work is required reading for all progressives; while I would take issue with some points, especially in her final prescriptive “what is to be done" chapter, her basic analysis that it is the “non-wage labour of women and other non-wage labourers as slaves, contract workers and peasants in the colonies - constitutes the perennial basis upon which 'capitalist productive labour' can be built up and exploited” was certainly a groundbreaking development in both feminist and marxist theory.

  10. 4 out of 5

    HonRevDrStainTruth

    Still a classic hat must be cited in discussion on "the" topic

  11. 5 out of 5

    anique

    totally lifechanging.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karl Schapper

    Crap. don't waste your time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Munting Aklatan

    Surprisingly easy to read and understandable, yet comprehensive and enlightening book about how capitalist-patriarchy propagates and upholds the abuse of women both in the third world (those laboring for long hours and low wages) and in the first world and/or middle class ("housewifization"). Mies explained how the woman question is often forgotten and undermined even in national liberation struggles, and emphasized how no revolution can be truly successful or complete without women's labor—whic Surprisingly easy to read and understandable, yet comprehensive and enlightening book about how capitalist-patriarchy propagates and upholds the abuse of women both in the third world (those laboring for long hours and low wages) and in the first world and/or middle class ("housewifization"). Mies explained how the woman question is often forgotten and undermined even in national liberation struggles, and emphasized how no revolution can be truly successful or complete without women's labor—which, even though essential, are made invisible because of the international division of labor (formal vs. informal sector, industrial work vs. housework, men's work vs. women's work). Here, Mies not only called for women's solidarity and for them to take control of their labor, lives, and their bodies. She also urged men to have the same responsibility in shedding unfounded masculine stereotypes (man-the-hunter) and proposed a rethinking of economic models with the view that no women, nations, or resources are exploited. NOTE: I did not mean to take that long to read this book. I just got so busy with school and life that I entered a two-year reading slump. Booooo.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Supongo que tiene cosas matizables o revisables (leía en otra crítica que peca de cierto orientalismo en algunas descripciones de cuestiones del Sur global), y hay pequeñas cosas que han quedado desfasadas, pero para ser un libro con más de 30 años me parece que en líneas generales sigue totalmente vigente y, que, para variar, no parece haber sido muy tenido en cuenta fuera de los círculos feministas. Así que aunque podría ser un 4 ó 4`5 le pongo un 5 por lo necesario que es y más en el contexto Supongo que tiene cosas matizables o revisables (leía en otra crítica que peca de cierto orientalismo en algunas descripciones de cuestiones del Sur global), y hay pequeñas cosas que han quedado desfasadas, pero para ser un libro con más de 30 años me parece que en líneas generales sigue totalmente vigente y, que, para variar, no parece haber sido muy tenido en cuenta fuera de los círculos feministas. Así que aunque podría ser un 4 ó 4`5 le pongo un 5 por lo necesario que es y más en el contexto actual de emergencia climática, con la necesidad de abordar la crisis con criterios de justicia social (en los que deberían estar incluidos las injusticias contra las mujeres como colectivo pero a menudo parece que no es así) y la justicia internacional norte-sur.

  15. 4 out of 5

    salma k

    The writer reveals the connection of capitalism to the patriarchal system, and emphasizes that, in contrast to what most socialists think, patriarchy still wouldn’t be eradicated in a socialist system, and thus sets clear the fact that socialism is not the answer, but feminism itself is, as an ideology that stands by itself and not connected or founded upon another—mostly patriarchal—ideology, to achieve a feminist aim, and that is, consciousness-raising and consequently women’s emancipation. A The writer reveals the connection of capitalism to the patriarchal system, and emphasizes that, in contrast to what most socialists think, patriarchy still wouldn’t be eradicated in a socialist system, and thus sets clear the fact that socialism is not the answer, but feminism itself is, as an ideology that stands by itself and not connected or founded upon another—mostly patriarchal—ideology, to achieve a feminist aim, and that is, consciousness-raising and consequently women’s emancipation. A must-read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Brett

    I picked this up because I saw it was required reading for a feminist class at the university of Hawaii. I’m not sure how relevant is is almost 40 years after it’s original publication; in some ways it is, and I don’t regret reading it, but I would imagine there’s a more contemporary similar monograph out there? It was more about India and Germany than the rest of the world, at times way over generalized, but still made interesting and useful points.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    Eu quedo-me especialmente com a parte mais empírica do livro, os capítulos centrais; sobretudo frente ao começo mais teoricista, ainda que cumha crítica teórica de Marx com certo interesse. Também me parece de enorme interesse a crítica feminista ao trabalho que faz

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alfie Hancox

    As another reviewer notes, this would have been much stronger if it had engaged with black feminist writings. Nonetheless, an important text alongside Caliban & the Witch As another reviewer notes, this would have been much stronger if it had engaged with black feminist writings. Nonetheless, an important text alongside Caliban & the Witch

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    This book provides historical contextualization of women (particularly of the global south) and how they have been used for capital accumulation purposes through time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Reem

    This book was a very informative read. It examines patriarchal capitalism and how patriarchy can't be dismantled without acknowledging the effects of capitalism on it and the subjection of women and women's bodies through capitalism. The book opens up with what is feminism, the intersect-labels attached to feminists regarding their political affiliation. I personally loved the "social origins of the sexual divisions of labour" chapter. How social paradigms have interpreted femaleness and malenes This book was a very informative read. It examines patriarchal capitalism and how patriarchy can't be dismantled without acknowledging the effects of capitalism on it and the subjection of women and women's bodies through capitalism. The book opens up with what is feminism, the intersect-labels attached to feminists regarding their political affiliation. I personally loved the "social origins of the sexual divisions of labour" chapter. How social paradigms have interpreted femaleness and maleness depending on society wether it's matristic or patriarchal. "Women did not only collect and consume what grew in nature, they made things grow". Women's object-relation to nature birthed the first social relations (mothers-children) whereas men's object-relation to nature can't seem to prevail or be deemed as naturally productive because of the need of external tools. " The male's self conception as human, that is, as being productive, is closely linked to the invention and control of technology. Without tools a man is no MAN" It was such a reflective chapter on anthropological aspects and the man-the-hunter myth analysis with a lot of insightful information I have never come across before. The idea that the predatory patriarchal division of labour is based on subordination of human beings hit home. Men are separated from women not from pious reasons but because they are inferior. I know the text was trying to capitalize on the west-conquests/colonization but I still liked how relevant it was to me. It was a very good book, to some it may appear as a marxist-esque feminist book but it was good nonetheless.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniella

    I’m adding this book to need to read books for understanding feminism along with bell hooks’ “Feminism Is For Everybody.” Mies develops a long argument about the limits of Marxism as it concerns women, reproductive labor, and all the invisible players in the capitalistic framework that don’t participate in “productive” labor. I enjoyed reading her arguments about the differences between 1st and 3rd world women, housewifization, and the relation between the persecution of witches to the benefit o I’m adding this book to need to read books for understanding feminism along with bell hooks’ “Feminism Is For Everybody.” Mies develops a long argument about the limits of Marxism as it concerns women, reproductive labor, and all the invisible players in the capitalistic framework that don’t participate in “productive” labor. I enjoyed reading her arguments about the differences between 1st and 3rd world women, housewifization, and the relation between the persecution of witches to the benefit of medical, science, and especially, the disciplines of law. She traces the history of patriarchy to the present (around the 1980s). She explains why colonialism as a predecessor to the capitalist-patriarchy is in direct opposition to feminism. I especially liked her critique of how liberation movements in the recent past have not been complete successes because they don’t place the question of feminism at the center of the revolution. There is a lot here to mull over and to understand better. It was interesting to see the language that feminists used during this time period. I’m not sure I agree with her stance on consumerism, but this book requires a lot more thought than I can dedicate to it right now. This is definitely a book I will pick up again after a few more years of living in the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Reginald Simms

    Author starts with a history of and then definition of feminism. The next chapter gives a narrative of how we got to this point so far and explains the theory of man the hunter and woman the gather as the origin of the mode of production which has led to the current system of patriarchy. In the next few chapters the different kinds of oppression existing in the "First World and "Third Word" or the overdeveloped countries and the underdeveloped countries are placed in juxtaposition to each other Author starts with a history of and then definition of feminism. The next chapter gives a narrative of how we got to this point so far and explains the theory of man the hunter and woman the gather as the origin of the mode of production which has led to the current system of patriarchy. In the next few chapters the different kinds of oppression existing in the "First World and "Third Word" or the overdeveloped countries and the underdeveloped countries are placed in juxtaposition to each other and framed as being in an antagonistic relationship but are linked in their oppressions. The author concludes that the struggle of both worlds are integrated and connected and are in relation to each other and thus all classes of women and men must overcome the the subjugated position that capital puts us all in through fighting together whenever is possible by seeing those connections. In my opinion an internationalism without a solely individualist inclination.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I've only glanced through this and read a small excerpt form the middle, but it seems like a really excellent and unbelievably sweeping overview of the development of the world economy from a feminist and neo-Marxist perspective. The piece that I read illustrated how the construction of nuclear families and housewife status in Europe was tightly linked with the imposition of patriarchy and social disintegration in the colonies. She includes some really stunning quotes from primary sources showin I've only glanced through this and read a small excerpt form the middle, but it seems like a really excellent and unbelievably sweeping overview of the development of the world economy from a feminist and neo-Marxist perspective. The piece that I read illustrated how the construction of nuclear families and housewife status in Europe was tightly linked with the imposition of patriarchy and social disintegration in the colonies. She includes some really stunning quotes from primary sources showing how consciously and explicitly this strategy was implemented by particular groups of European men.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andee

    This is an excellent and comprehensive analysis of the connections between colonialism, environmental degradation, and the exploitation of women. Her assessment of the shortcomings of Marxian theory are satisfying, and extremely important for those who dream of a truly egalitarian socialism. My only reservations come from her proposed intermediary steps. I don't think consumer boycotts will be an effective tactic for overthrowing the global system of Capitalist-Patriarchy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    Links together patterns of capitalist accumulation with the oppression of women and colonized people everywhere.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alon Lopatin

    Academicy but really solid info and analysis. really like all of the work that was put into comparing feminist movement lines.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rajesh Lakum

    very good

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lelayna

    excellent book - regarding development (global) and its connections to patriarchy. a changing book for me - read it with my fave professor.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joma

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Sweet

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