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Gender Division of Labor

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Gender Division of Labor

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Gendered Division of Labor as a Unified Systems Theory

Glenn’s race-gender analysis of labor provides a unique insight to social feminism. In Gender, Race, and the Organization of Reproductive Labor, she analyzes society’s form of social reproduction—this gendered division of labor. I believe that Glenn’s inquiry leans more towards Young’s approach of a unified systems theory as opposed to Hartmann’s dual systems theory. Dual systems theory highlights two distinct spheres: capitalism and patriarchy. This theory is a combination of Marist and radical feminism, which claims that both spheres reinforce and constantly interact with each other. A unified system theory, on the other hand, takes a more historical approach that evaluates the relations of power as a whole. This theory emphasizes the value of “invisible” work such as childcare, housework, and nursing (etc.).

One of the key similarities between Glenn and Young, (I believe), is that they both argue against the assumption that women as a group are in the same situation and face the same conflicts. This is clearly not true. In Women and Revolution, Young states, “Gender division of labor analysis allows us to do material analysis of the social relations of labor in gender specific terms without assuming that all women in general or all women in a particular society have a common and unified situation… Gender division of labor analysis, however, can avoid this false identification” (55).

Glenn continuously points out that women of different races, ethnicities, and classes face very different situations. While mostly all women are subordinated to men, they are so in different ways, and in many cases women of color are inferior to white women. “Black and Latina women were disproportionately employed as service workers in institutional settings to carry out lower level public reproductive labor, while cleaner white-collar supervisory, as well as lower professional positions, were filled by white...

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