Date of Award
University or Center
Atlanta University (AU)
Professor Larry Noble
The primary intent of this thesis is to analyze socialist feminist literature in order to ascertain conclusions about the nature of this framework of feminist thought. The most distinguishing characteristic of this type of feminist theory is that some form of Marxian economic analysis is utilized. Therefore, understanding the relationship between female oppression and economic exploitation is the orienting problem of all socialist feminist theory. In order to examine this relationship, this thesis explores the methods of analysis found in socialist feminist literature.
A case study approach is used in which three methods of socialist feminist theory are examined. They include: (1) Marxist feminism, (2) Black feminism, and (3) a synthesis between Marxist and radical feminist theories. Although each of these methods is described as socialist feminist in nature, each examines the problem of female oppression in a somewhat different vein. In order to enhance these discussions, each case study is grounded in the writings of a particular feminist theorist. Correspondingly, they include: (1) Alexander Kollontai, (2) Angela Y. Davis and the Combahee River Collective, and (3) Zillah R. Eisenstein.
This study concludes with a comparative analysis of the methods presented in the three case studies. It is emphasized in this section that although all socialist feminist theory is grounded in the early writings of Marx and Engels, all theory of this nature does not agree with the conceptualizations presented in these works. The socialist feminist method most compatible to the classical Marxian conception of female oppression is "Marxist feminism." In this method, the problem of female oppression is defined strictly in terms of comprehending the nature of domestic work in terms of its nexus to social production. On the other hand, socialist feminist methods that incorporate some form of radical feminist theory expand the scope of the problem of conceptualizing female oppression. In these methods, female oppression is not equated to the rise of capitalism, nor is it assumed that socialism will liberate women. Also, female liberation is not considered to be a function of labor force participation as if most women were only housewives. Instead, these methods move towards developing a feminist political economy.
Smith, Lawrencine, "Towards developing a feminist political economy: a comparative analysis of socialist feminist theory" (1988). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 1909.