Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Linda M. Alcoff

Subject Categories

Economics | History | Women's Studies


Autonomia; Feminism; Italy; Marxism; Reproductive labor; Workerism


The extremely high presence of housewives in Italy during the 'miracle years,' of 1950-1963, seemingly suggested that an unprecedented number of women were unemployed after their expulsion from large-scale industry. This phenomenon inspired debate among feminists on questions such as the contribution of housewives to the reproduction of labor-power, the character of reproductive labor and the relation between the participation of women in waged labor and unwaged domestic labor. In revisiting this phenomenon, this thesis argues that, contrary to the appearance of women being unemployed, a significant number of women, along with children, were irregularly engaged in undeclared forms of labor in semi-illegal workshops and tenements while carrying out domestic chores for the maintenance of their families. Capital, therefore, set in place an invisible labor force that it super-exploited, while it infringed upon the ability of women to reproduce their labor-power. Production, therefore, ultimately determined the participation of women in reproductive labor and the way women reproduced their labor-power. Within the latter, the wage, which represents a portion of the value that the laborer produced, determined what use-values could be produced in order to maintain the laborer.