Inside Families : Review of Laura Briggs, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics

Jones, Sophie (2018) Inside Families : Review of Laura Briggs, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics. [Review] (

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The shift to neoliberalism is rarely narrated from the vantage point of the household, but it is here – in the realm of unpaid bills and mounting laundry – that the contradictions of our political moment are felt most forcefully, writes Laura Briggs. Her US-focused book, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics, retells the story of neoliberal economics 'from inside families' and reframes its legacy through the lens of the care crisis. How did it get so hard, Briggs asks, to find the time and resources to do the necessary work of reproduction? The institutionalisation of the 'double day' – the site of one of feminism's great unfinished battles – has, she observes, eroded Americans' collective capacity to have and raise children, care for the elderly and support the sick and disabled. In Briggs' account, the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s curtailed the dissenting energies of twentieth-century radical protest movements: this is the historical moment at which 'all politics became reproductive politics'. It is a controversial headline claim: after all, has there ever been a time under capitalism when 'all politics' were not shot through with the contradictions of social reproduction? The book never fully confronts this question, though it does paint a dynamic portrait of the structural contradictions that attend the contemporary organisation of care work in America.


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