In her 1990’s work she presents a critique of liberal feminism and social welfare feminism.
- The two wings of second wave feminism should be supplanted by a new, more broadly-based strategy – serious and disruptive challenge to capital. A broad and militant “rainbow movement” – trade union and political organization outside of Democratic party.
- Organization is not understood to be instrumental – but part of self-transformative process:
- “The main point of organizing people around immediate needs is to develop capacities.... confidence in collective action, commitments to organizing social life in democratic and participatory ways.” – conditions of healthy and vibrant democracy are social commitments for shared domestic and child-care responsibilities to enable equalized access to economic and political life for both men and women.”
- “Where lies feminism’s transformative promise? It cannot be renewed on the basis of its old middle-class constituencies but depends on rebuilding working-class self-organizations.” A collectively structured process of resistance to, and demands on, corporate capital. Rather than a cross-classed movement for democratic rights, this women’s movement would be based on organizations allied to, and part of, other struggles and located organizationally within working-class movements (205). To change the situation working-class women will need to organize and come up with a radically reorganized society and revolutionary strategies (with long-term and short-term) goals for a significant reorganization of production and for international solidarity (208).
- Intersectionality focuses on social place - “intersecting axes of domination.” But class is often not seen as social relations of production.
- Globalization – capital is increasingly flexible, mobile, and working with concentrated power, creating intensity of capitalist competition and employers’ drive to squeeze even more out of workforce. Highly competitive and turbulent economy now dominates life. Working-class political and economic defense that were previously built are now utterly unable to respond to new conditions. Until alternatives develop, the political hegemony of the modernizing right will remain in place.
- There are realistic hopes – US working class is more immigrant, more diverse, more low-waged and more female. Trade unions – though weak – are groping for more militancy, more democracy, more political and community-based modes of struggle. Some coalitions of environmental groups and trade unions.
- Labor is changing because it has no choice – new groups of workers, international labor solidarity, real possibility for a coalition politics. We have no choice but to find hope and engage in the “visionary pragmatism” of continuing struggles and building new visions for future.
Brenner does hesitate a bit to provide a specific “alternative model” in most of her work. But in her 2007 article, "Socializing Care: Reinventing Family Life" she proposes a socialist alternative model for care and the family. She does caution that “blueprints” seem to harbor dogmatic impositions, political correctness” and intolerance. Moreover, our ideas about alternatives are inevitably limited by our own time and place, because the society in which we live so fundamentally shapes the horizons of our imaginations.” But she does offer alternatives about the family “as starting places for a dialogue.” She also notes that reorganizing care would implicate many other institutions and arenas of life—workplaces, how resources are distributed, how the polity is organized. Therefore, she may have the outline to a next system within this specific proposal.
- Uncoupling love from survival
- Love should not be intertwined with basic needs—shelter, financial support, security, caretaking and help with everyday living
- We must expand the circle of those who care about and for us, in order to create more space in which individuals can find and maintain happier and more satisfying sexual/love relationships
- We must de-gender the work of care AND make it a collective responsibility (so long as it is private, it will remain gendered)
- Collective childcare in a democratic community will allow people to be more individual at the same time as they are less individualistic
- Children need bonds with other adults who aren’t their parents, so we need communal arrangements for bringing up children - this way parents are more likely to treat children as separate individuals, rather than extensions of self
- In order to share care and housework, people need to live near or with each other. But the relationships people enter, how work is divided, and how they balance private and public space can be quite varied.
- Commune, communal village, co-housing developments (private living with some public, shared space). This would allow all community members to develop relationships with the children living there.
- New ideas - and oppenness - about sexuality and difference in sexuality.
- Involve more people in caring for the elderly
- Resource allocation to support this would be matters for democratic decision-making
- In all of this a focus on de-commofidying expertise about the “right way” to take care of children and elders. In this model experts are competitive in the marketplace when they lay claim to “exclusive authority on particular issues.”
- Groups need to, and will, regulate the behavior of members. “But we might make a distinction between the exercise of group power and surplus regulation--the punitive stance towards difference, the ways in which a majority demands conformity not because there is no acceptable alternative but because it is too disturbing to allow difference. In caregiving - negotiate, be experimental & flexible - admitting there is more than one good practice - comes back to how anxiously and defensively people relate to their world. We must separate labors of love from other kinds of work & split it up in a more equitable way