Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis
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Nancy Fraser’s major new book traces the feminist movement’s evolution since the 1970s and anticipates a new—radical and egalitarian—phase of feminist thought and action.
During the ferment of the New Left, “Second Wave” feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements that were questioning core features of capitalist society. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a decline in its utopian energies and the rise of neoliberalism. Now, foreseeing a revival in the movement, Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis. Feminism can be a force working in concert with other egalitarian movements in the struggle to bring the economy under democratic control, while building on the visionary potential of the earlier waves of women’s liberation. This powerful new account is set to become a landmark of feminist thought.
those of the “what” and the “who,” which I shall call the question of the “how.” That question, in turn, inaugurates a paradigm shift: what the Keynesian-Westphalian frame casts as the theory of social justice must now become a theory of post-Westphalian democratic justice. 1. FOR A THREE-DIMENSIONAL THEORY OF JUSTICE: ON THE SPECIFICITY OF THE POLITICAL Let me begin by explaining what I mean by justice in general and by its political dimension in particular. In my view, the most general
matters? How to overcome the deficits of discredited economistic approaches, which focus exclusively on the “systemic logic” of the capitalist economy? How to develop an expanded, non-economistic understanding of capitalist society, which incorporates the insights of feminism, ecology, multiculturalism, and postcolonialism? How to conceptualize crisis as a social process in which economics is mediated by history, culture, geography, politics, ecology, and law? How to comprehend the full range of
political rights, most white women remained legally and politically dependent. The result was to feminize—and stigmatize—socio-legal and political dependency, making coverture appear increasingly obnoxious and stimulating agitation for the statutes and court decisions that eventually dismantled it. Together, then, a series of new personifications of dependency combined to constitute the underside of the workingman’s independence. Henceforth, those who aspired to full membership in society would
stigmatization. A second important postindustrial current is the rise of new psychological meanings of dependency with very strong feminine associations. In the 1950s, social workers influenced by psychiatry began to diagnose dependence as a form of immaturity common among women, particularly among solo mothers (who were often, of course, welfare claimants). “Dependent, irresponsible, and unstable, they respond like small children to the immediate moment,” declared the author of a 1954
insurrectionary, anti-capitalist spirit of the second wave. A compilation of essays written over a period of more than twenty-five years, this volume’s orientation is at once retrospective and prospective. Charting shifts in the feminist imaginary since the 1970s, it offers an interpretation of the recent history of feminist thought. At the same time, however, it looks forward, to the feminism of the future now being invented by new generations of feminist activists. Schooled in digital media