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Social Theory and Practice

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published on June 6, 2018

Paul Blackledge

Frederick Engels, Social Reproduction, and the Problem of a Unitary Theory of Women’s Oppression

In this paper I argue that Frederick Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State remains a fundamental resource for anyone wanting to understand the oppression of women as a capitalist form. By re-examining the strengths and weaknesses of Engels’s historicisation of women’s oppression through the lens of the debates opened by second wave feminism, I argue that, once properly understood, we can overcome the limitations of Engels’s book to point to the kind of unitary theory of women’s oppression essential to a strategy adequate to the needs of the struggle for women’s liberation.

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