I recently learned a new term – social reproduction. Upon learning the definition, I suspect you, like me, will think: “So that’s what social scientist call it.” In other words, while the term may be new to you, the concept is not.

In a 2016 interview with Dissent magazine, Nancy Fraser, a professor of philosophy and politics at The New School for Social Research, defined social reproduction as: “the creation and maintenance of social bonds.” (Source)

Social reproduction is the “social glue” that holds families and communities together. It consists of two parts. The first part is generational ties which include birthing, child raising, and elder care. The second part of social reproduction occurs in horizontal relationships among friends, neighbors, and community members. Both parts of social reproduction are essential to social cooperation and organization.

Different from but also important to the functioning of a society is economic production or the things we make and sell. Prior to the rise of capitalism, social reproduction and economic production happened within the domain of the family farm. As the making of products moved into factories and offices, economic production became reliant upon paid laborers, composed mostly of men, or enslaved laborers of both genders. Social reproduction was regulated to the female sphere where women received neither financial compensation or acknowledgment.

As the need for laborers grew (mid 20th century), unions formed. Workers organized and used their combined leverage to demand a “family wage.” While the increase in wages was an important step in equitable remuneration, the family wage movement benefitted men more than women. Women continued to be primarily responsible for social reproduction and were more dependent on men who were considered “the breadwinners.” Family wage also had a narrow definition of family, and consequently, fostered heteronormativity.

Both “separate spheres” and “family wage” models do not address racism, ableism, or heterosexism. In other words, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, and queer people were, and still are, disproportionately underpaid and mistreated. It is a privilege to afford to have one adult stay at home and maintain social bonds.

The luxury of choice – to stay in the home or not – is afforded to fewer and fewer people regardless of gender. Present day economics bandies about the term “two-earner family,” which may initially seem like a win for women and queer families; however, if you look deeper, you notice what is not being addressed.

What is not being addressed is the fact that 40-hours of labor per week is NOT enough to support a family. Most families need TWO wage-earners to survive, and even then, not all families can afford a home.

In order for a family of four to afford a two bedroom apartment, EACH wage earner would need to earn $24.16 per hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and even though some states have raised the minimum wage rate, no state has raised the rate to the necessary $24.16. (Source)

What does all this mean? (Not an exhaustive list by far. Please share your ideas too.)

  1. Economic production primarily benefits the owners/shareholders of companies. Workers are not fairly or equitably compensated for their labor.
  2. Social reproduction is undervalued, and consequently, happening less often.
  3. The only way a person can work outside the home is if they can afford to hire someone to provide child and/or elder care. While there are some social services which provide such care, these services are less available than a generation ago, and if affordable, typically of inferior quality.
  4. During the pandemic, more women than men left the work place to care for children. (Source)
  5. Collectively, our communities are experiencing a crisis of care.

For these reasons as well as many more, I am invested in working in community to find equitable, inclusive, and fair solutions to our crisis of care. If you too want to address this crisis, then please send me an email sharing your intentions.

In the meantime, I wish each one of you a wonderful week.

Love,

Kim Bushore-Maki

Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.

Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.

Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.

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