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Women and the Politics of Class


Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN: 1-58367-010-6
Released: December 2000

Women and the Politics of Class engages many crucial contemporary feminist issues—abortion, reproductive technology, comparable worth, the impoverishment of women, the crisis in care-giving, and the shredding of the social safety net through welfare reform and budget cuts. These problems, Brenner argues, must be set in the political and economic context of a state and society dominated by the imperatives of capital accumulation. Drawing on historical explorations of the labor movement and working-class politics, Brenner provides a fresh materialist approach to one of the most important issues of feminist theory today: the intersection of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class.

An excellent analysis of women’s oppression and the women’s movement from a socialist-feminist perspective…. A much-needed addition to contemporary feminist analysis of male domination …. The clarity and moral passion that informs [Brenner’s] work is a contagious force often missing in many academic feminist writings, and will be welcomed by all who are looking for a renewed egalitarian vision.


An impressive, scholarly, insightful, and superbly argued contribution to personal and academic women’s studies reading lists.


Socialist feminism, a large and influential sector of the women’s movement thirty years ago, has been largely eclipsed today, in part by the mistaken view that socialist thought is irrelevant in a post-communist world. Far from it. In Women and the Politics of Class, Johanna Brenner combines analytic rigor with moral passion to demonstrate the liveliness, relevance, and value of this perspective.


Johanna Brenner writes with a clarity of purpose that arises out of a lifetime of participation in the struggles of working-class women. This breakthrough book establishes her as a major voice on the American left.


This thoughtful set of essays challenges both traditional Marxist and traditional feminist analyses of gender and family life. Activists and academics alike will find Women and the Politics of Class a provocative and engaging read.




Part I. Toward a Historical Sociology of Gender

  1. Rethinking Women’s Oppression
  2. Gender and the State
  3. Gender and Class Relations in U.S. Labor History

Part II. Women and Social Policy

  1. The Feminization of Poverty, Comparable Worth and Feminist Political Discourse
  2. The Politics of Welfare Reform

Part III. The New Politics of the Family

  1. Socialism Versus Communitarianism
  2. Imagining the Transcendence of the Family

Part IV. Class Politics and Feminist Strategy

  1. The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: U.S. Feminism Today
  2. Meeting the Challenge of the Political Right



Johanna Brenner is coordinator of women’s studies at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, has written for Monthly Review, New Left Review, Gender & Society, among other journals, and is a longtime activist for reproductive rights, welfare rights, and socialism.

Format Clear
SKU: mrp0106 Categories: ,

Publication Date: September 2000

Number of Pages: 248

Paperback ISBN: 9781583670101