Beyond a social reproduction and production binary

Authors: Laura Riddering*, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
Topics: Development, Economic Geography, Gender
Keywords: social reproduction, development, labor
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper responds to the question: Should social reproduction (SRP) be conceived as a form of work that enables production, or is this too narrow a conception? I argue that the bounds of SRP must be expanded beyond capitalism and processes of capital accumulation to also examine SRP in the third sector, to specifically examine devalued forms of individual, household, and community social reproduction inside and outside of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Global economic restructuring since the 1980s, especially in the Global South, decreased state led development processes or community level SRP, and state supports for healthcare and school or individual level SRP. In turn, nongovernmental organizations increased supports for SRP via transnational development projects that rely on volunteer labor by locals and foreigners. Through an analysis of volunteer tourism in Guatemala, I delve into the contradictions of transnational care work by volunteers and intimate care work by homestay mothers that support nonprofit work in ways that are unaccounted for in analyses of economic development. I analyze the axes of social difference (gender, race, class) and of different laborer positions (paid, unpaid, local, transnational) to demonstrate that SRP in development nonprofits complicates capitalocentric thinking (Gibson-Graham 2006) and binaries like production/reproduction and for-profit/non-profit. In sum, I posit that to really understand the impacts of uneven development and economic restructuring on segregated labor markets, we need to understand the system as a whole including the social reproduction in the third sector.

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