Issue 20 – Materialist Feminism

Editors: Demet Özmen, Nevra Akdemir

Patriarchy and Informal Work: Unpaid Family Workers of Istanbul’s Garment Ateliers
Saniye Dedeoğlu

The result of implementation of export-oriented industrialization strategies has been the impressive growth of garment production in Turkey. Supported by the flexible production and subcontracting relations, family-owned garment ateliers became the prominent location of production and have opened up the doors of the global markets. As family-owned businesses, ateliers draw on inexpensive and often unpaid, flexible, and loyal immediate and extended kin to provide labour. Garment ateliers operate informally on the outskirts of big cities, such as İstanbul, where rural migrant families comprise a cheap labour pool for enterprising migrant business owners. The role of women’s unpaid and underpaid labour involvement in garment ateliers in İstanbul is a reflection of how these ateliers manage cooperating the social networks of extended kin relations into garment production. This study—through two case-studies— focuses on family labour and extended kin social networks to analyze patriarchal relations and how they affect the role of women’s unpaid and underpaid labour in these garment ateliers.

Keywords: Export-Oriented Industrialization, Family-Owned Businesses, Garment Ateliers, Kin Relations, Women’s Unpaid and Underpaid Labour.

The Relation between Technology and Women’s Paid Work from a Historical Perspective
Ece Kocabıçak

The aim of this study is to analyze the relation between the technologies used in production and structural characteristics of patriarchal capitalist system. It starts with the examination of production technologies that have been one of the most important power instruments even before the capitalist mode of production and demonstrates the exclusion of women from the design process of those technologies. Second section is allocated for the relation between production technologies and women’s paid work in capitalist mode of production and it starts with the industrial revolution. During the early period of industrial revolution, as long as technology broke the dependency into the muscle in production process, both women and children have been employed in large numbers. Although women had chance to improve their technical skills during that time period, because of the resistance organized by men workers and their unions which didn’t accept woman as a member until the end of 19th century, gender based segregation into labor market has been sharpened. The major dynamics of the process based on the continuity of in-house reproduction activities have been investigated together with the collisions and settlements between men workers and capitalists under this section.The impact of 1st and 2nd World Wars on women’s technical skills and the governmental policies that have took women labor force out just after the wars is also discussed.The final section is about the gap in between women labor force and technical skills today in Turkey and the affects of new industrial policy based on technology incentive production on women’s paid work in Turkey.

Keywords: Patriarchal Capitalist System, Gender Based Segregation, Production Technologies, Women’s Paid Work.

Analyzing Socialist Feminism in Turkey Through Kaktüs
Hülya Osmanağaoğlu

By studying Socialist Feminist Kaktüs magazine, published between 1988-1990, the socialist feminist tendency in the uprising feminist movement in Turkey is researched. In this context, a few of the important socialism practices’ politics and applications on women’s opression, and different feminisms’ theoretical analysis are being discussed. To understand, which needs of women’s movement Kaktüs answered, the women movement before feminism in Turkey is examined. In the frame of this historical and theoretical background Kaktüs and socialist feminist politics/movement in Turkey is debated. The aim was trying to answer the questions; what possibilities and obstacles were; and what the reflections Kaktüs still has today.

Keywords: Kaktüs Magazine, Socialist Feminism, Turkey, Women’s Oppression.

How Women’s Work Is Devalorized? Articulation Mechanisms of Informal Sector and Patriarchy:
Deliberate Concealment and Devalorization by Obscuring
Reyhan Atasü Topçuoğlu

This study aims to contribute to the socialist feminist discussions on the relations between patriarchy and capitalism. It reviews the relevant literature with respect to female home-based workers in the informal sector. It aims to unveil the relation between patriarchy and homebased work and suggests approaching the relation between the informal sector and women’s work from the perspectives of concealment and devalorization. Within this framework two new conceptualizations are proposed for the socialist feminist analysis of the articulation mechanisms of patriarchy and capitalism: “deliberate concealment” and “devalorization by obscuring”.

Keywords: Deliberate Concealment, Socialist Feminism, Devolarization by Obscuring, Patriarchy, Capitalism.

An Essay on the Theoretical Background of the Political Economy of Labour Law
Ali Murat Özdemir

This study includes an attempt to materially connect the juridical organisation of power with the social structuring of power, by way of reference to the correlation between the dynamics of accumulation and the state’s form. Within this context, labour law will be taken as a component to a general and persistent process of social regulation that secures general patterns of social domination and exploitation. This study concludes that the labour law has a critical role in shaping of the strategies of accumulation and tries to establish a link between the legal discourses and the discourses of production.

Keywords: Juridical Organisation of Power, Social Structuring of Power, Labour Law, Strategies of Accumulation, Political Economy.

The Foundations of Socialist Women’s Movement in France and Flora Tristan
Ateş Uslu

Flora Tristan (1803-1844) was one of the foremost feminist writers in France, and a leading socialist writer and activist of the first half of the 19th century. The main objective of the article is to tackle the genuine nexus Tristan established between socialism and women’s liberation movement. The first chapter contains a wide historical description of the evolution of women’s rights and of the thought of women’s liberation in France from 1789 onwards. During the 1830s, some supporters of main socialist currents of socialism (especially, the followers of Saint Simon) consider the women’s liberation as one of the most important issues of socialist policy. Flora Tristan’s thought can be interpreted in this context. Early writings of Tristan reflect an individual concern of the author with social injustice and gender inequalities. However, in the late 1830s, she becomes familiar with the worker’s movement, and becomes a noteworthy social activist. In her ‘Workers’ Union” (1843), she considers the fragmentation of the workers and proposes the creation of an organization that would be able to “construct the working class”. Women’s liberation is still one of the main issues of Tristan’s thought in “Workers’ Union”, however, this issue is rather articulated in a pragmatic manner to the perspective of social transformation; put otherwise, in Tristan’s work, socialism and feminism are far from constituting a systematically coherent whole.

Keywords: Socialist Women’s Movement, France, Flora Tristan, Socialism, Women’s Liberation Movement.