Seeking to capture the multi-layered, contradictory, nature of subjectivities and social positions through a framework which insists upon the complex, dynamic nature of the social, intersectionality feminism has inspired Marxist-Feminists to push the social-reproduction feminism paradigm beyond a narrow preoccupation with gender/class relations. Yet even its most politically radical articulations stop short of fully theorising the integrative logic they espouse. This article explores the roots of this under-theorisation, and suggests that a more fully integrative ontology informs certain formulations of social-reproduction feminism. In understanding the social as constituted by practical human activity whose object (the social and natural world) is organised capitalistically, social-reproduction feminism highlights the dialectical relationship between the capitalist whole and its differentiated parts. The challenge for Marxist-Feminism is to embrace this dialectical approach while building on the insights of intersectionality feminism to more convincingly capture the unity of a complex, diverse social whole.
The 2011 Historical Materialism Conference in London saw the launch of a Marxist-Feminist set of panels. This issue is inspired by the success of those panels, and the remarkably sustained interest in reviving and moving beyond older debates and discussions. The special issue’s focus, Social-Reproduction Feminism, reflects and contextualises the ongoing work and engagement with that thematic that has threaded through the conferences in the 2010s. This Introduction provides a summary overview of the Social-Reproduction Feminism framework, situating it within Marxist-Feminist thinking and politics more generally, and calls on readers to consider its promise and potential as an historical-materialist approach to understanding capitalist social relations in terms of an integrated totality.