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On the Hostility to Handicraft, Aesthetic Labour and the Politics of Work in Art
This book provides a new history of the changing relationship between art, craft and industry focusing on the transition from workshop to studio, apprentice to pupil, guild to gallery and artisan to artist. Responding to the question whether the artist is a relic of the feudal mode of production or is a commodity producer corresponding to the capitalist mode of cultural production, this inquiry reveals, instead, that the history of the formation of art as distinct from handicraft, commerce and industry can be traced back to the dissolution of the dual system of guild and court. This history needs to be revisited in order to rethink the categories of aesthetic labour, attractive labour, alienated labour, nonalienated labour and unwaged labour that shape the modern and contemporary politics of work in art.
Editor: Gregor Benton
Wang Fanxi, a leader of the Chinese Trotskyists, wrote this book on Mao more than fifty years ago. He did so while in exile in the then Portuguese colony of Macau, across the water from Hong Kong, where he had been sent in 1949 to represent his comrades in China, soon to disappear for decades into Mao’s jails. The book is an analytical study whose strength lies less in describing Mao’s life than in explaining Maoism and setting out a radical view on it as a political movement and a current of thought within the Marxist tradition to which both Wang and Mao belonged. With its clear and provoking thesis, it has, since its writing, stood the test of time far better than the hundreds of descriptive studies that have in the meantime come and gone.

The article investigates whether Hobbes’s political theory gives us reason to expect the systematic subordination of women. It argues that who dominates whom is a matter of victory in the quest to pull allies into ordered alliances. The primary means of gaining allies—force and wiles—depend on both skill-fitness and affective fitness. The analyses suggest that it is sex-linked and gender-linked differences in affective fitness—particularly in the intensity of men’s desire to use religious wiles—that most plausibly explain the subjection of women, both across the spectrum of states of nature and within civil societies. Although Hobbes’s political theory enables us to make sense of how it happened, there is nothing in that theory that either necessitates or should cause us to expect the systematic subordination of women.

In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies

Despite the vast amount of scholarship on Hobbes’s philosophy, his writings on sexuality have gone largely unexplored. This paper offers an interpretation of Hobbes’s writing on that topic. I argue that if we pay attention to his remarks on sexuality, we can retrieve a coherent account of sexual morality, one that takes a strong stance against doctrines of natural sexual morality, replacing them with a commitment to positivism about sexual norms. With this reconstruction of the Hobbesian view of sexual morality in hand, I conclude by exploring some of its implications from a contemporary feminist perspective.

In: Hobbes Studies

This article challenges the idea that Hobbes presents a negative anthropology and shows, to the contrary, that there is a thick web of social relations in his state of nature and laws of nature. It considers the contradiction between human natural equality claimed by Hobbes, and female subjection that de facto characterizes most of his passages on gender relations. The key to this puzzle is found in comparison of the notions of conquest and consent, and of acquisition and institution, comparisons that establish a similarity between paternal authority and despotic dominion. A step towards the solution is provided by the hypothesis that the divide between “vainglorious” and “moderate” is gendered, with women more disposed to moderation than men. This can be explained by the idea that, “for society’s sake,” women in the state of nature appreciate more the advantages of long-term cooperation, even at the price of some subordination.

In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies