Issue 15: Winter 2012

‘Care Work and the Commons’

This is a comprehensive issue in three parts. Five articles from the 1970s that remain as relevant as ever are featured in part 1, ten new articles appear in part 2, while part 3 contains ten informative documents and interviews, all addressing care work, domestic labour and social reproduction. Download as a complete issue [PDF] or as respective articles below.

Camille Barbagallo and Silvia Federici introduce it thus:

“…In this issue of The Commoner we begin a discussion of care work and more broadly reproductive work, by which we refer to the complex of activities and services that re-produce human beings as well as the commodity laborpower, starting with child-care, housework, sex work and elder care, both in the form of waged and unwaged labour.Our objective is to examine how the neo-liberal restructuring of the global economy, over the last three decades,has reshaped the organization of this work…”

Massimo de Angelis, in the preface, writes:

“… as the commons develop within a field of power relations, the character and social space of their autonomy are necessarily negotiated with capital. But negotiation can only occur on the basis of of the commons’ constituted power, which is the power of reproducing with dignity and freedom the life and bodies of all involved in a process of reproduction. Here is the crucial importance of this issue of The Commoner, edited by Camille Barbagallo and Silvia Federici. The analyses and stories it weaves together force us to look at the power of the commons power from the perspective of the labour required to reproduce human beings as well as labour power: child-care, housework,sex work and elder care, both in the form of waged and unwaged labour. Its objective is not only “to examine how the neo-liberal restructuring of the global economy, over the last three decades, has reshaped the organization of this work” transforming “our bodies and desires” and re-configuring “our homes, our families and social relations.” Most importantly, this issue wants to highlight the struggles that domestic-care workers (mostly women, but also men) are making in response to the new conditions of re-productive labour. For these struggles pose the need for and invent new forms of commoning, building bridges be-tween and beyond roles, such as employees and employers,clients and service providers, parents and nannies. These forms of commoning are vital for us, not only in order to overcome the crisis of reproduction we face, and refuse to have those most socially vulnerable – women, children,the elders, immigrant workers – pay the price for it, but also to begin to mold a new society and reconstitute the common/s. For the articles in this issue demonstrate that the power of the common/s begins with the social powers we deploy to materially reproduce and affectively care for ourselves…”

Massimo de Angelis: Preface: Care Work and the Commons

Camille Barbagallo and Silvia Federici: Introduction