Feminist Next System Literature Review

Johanna Brenner

Johanna Brenner, feminist-socialist sociologist and professor emerita at Portland State University has spent her career writing about issues facing working class women. She also spent 4 years working as a telephone installation tech in the 70’s, giving her first-hand knowledge of the issues. Brenner and Nancy Holstrom have written articles together and have a good deal of overlap in their work.

In her 1990’s work she presents a critique of liberal feminism and social welfare feminism.In her 2000 book Women and the Politics of Class she continues to argue that the women’s movement did not succeed in changing the most important aspect of the gender division of labor: that women are predominantly responsible for care. Answering some of the questions of how we might get to an alternative system she argues:In a 2002 article on Intersectionality from a Marxist perspective, she goes further in critiquing capitalism (and non-marxist definitions of intersectionality). But she also identifies what she sees as pockets of hope:
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.

Alternatives proposed:Therefore, we need to develop more collective arrangements for everyday life.Conclusion - from our current perspective, collective living seems onerous and frightening--”too much negotiating among too many people about too many decisions.” And, certainly, the dilemmas that emerge when we try to balance the needs of many with the demands of the group will always be with us. But, if we want an alternative to capitalism, then we have to overcome these fears through “organizing everyday care in social relationships and institutions that are collective but also democratic, self-reflective, open to difference, and filled with variety.” 

This page has paths:

This page has tags: