Edited By Hülya Yaldir and Güncel Önkal
What is our responsibility as scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the face of global issues threatening humanity today? This book provides a platform for an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural dialogue among philosophers and sociologists on the most pressing global issues facing humanity today. Combining the critical thinking of philosophy with sociological methods and researches, this volume offers fresh and stimulating perspectives with regard to various issues including environmental degradation, democracy, gender and economic inequalities, religion, war and peace.
Feminist Economics and Unpaid Labour
The term ‘gender’ designates socially and culturally created roles and tasks that a society assigns to men and women. The distinction between biologically defined sex and socio-culturally defined gender sets the social position of women. In the economic order, gender is the fundamental cause and the basis of men and women occupying different positions, the separation and division of men and women, and the sexual division of labour into men’s and women’s jobs.
Economics includes only those activities that identify market changes. It is not concerned with non-market activities. As these imply, women’s paid labour falls within the scope of economics, whereas women’s unpaid care and domestic labour falls outside its scope. As for women’s work, it is necessary to specify scope of the concepts of ‘work’ and ‘women’s labour’. These two concepts do not have exactly the same content. The concept of work is mainly used for market-oriented activities with monetary value under the dominance of capitalist production relations. However, some of the women’s activities are activities that remain outside of this criterion and are not subject to capitalist production relations. In accordance with these criteria, the use of the concept of ‘women’s labour’ as a holistic inclusion of women’s activities is widespread. Nevertheless, this concept is not clear enough in terms of its scope and content. Feminist economics reveals the limits of masculine economics and calls for the expansion of the boundaries of economics, including its points of view. Feminist economics asks for women’s activities to be addressed from the women’s perspective including their experiences and the production of policies towards women.
The gender-based division of labour determines the position of women in the domestic and labour market. Due to the patriarchy, women are not only confined within the home and the family, held responsible for jobs and tasks deemed as suitable for them by the society, but also excluded from the labour market and made socially invisible. This has led women to question the distinction between ‘labour’ and ‘non-labour’. Questioning the reproductive labour and the distinction between productive and public labour has started the process of re-evaluation of housework. Domestic labour debates are also among the first examples of men’s participation in feminist discourse.←219 | 220→
In this chapter, women’s unpaid labour is taken into consideration through theoretical and empirical studies and women’s activities are evaluated within the perspective of feminist economics. In the first part, a brief history of the studies on women’s unpaid labour in Turkey along with unpaid domestic labour and other forms of invisible labour will be presented. In the second part, the economic value of unpaid labour and its measurement will be explored. The last part focuses on the contribution of feminist economics in making women’s activities visible.
2 A brief history of the studies on women’s unpaid labour in Turkey
Although the studies regarding unpaid labour has a very long history, the number of studies in this field has grown tremendously during the second wave feminist movement in the West in the 1960s. In Turkey, on the other hand, the number of works has been increased along with the investigations concerning the fact that the burden of unpaid labour is mostly borne by women since the second half of the 1980s. Margaret Reid’s Economics of Household Production (1934) is one of the main works that seeks to improve the method of estimating the value of women’s unpaid labour in national accounts.
The growing interest in women’s labour in Turkey can be regarded as a result of necessity as well as scientific curiosity. For the solution of the problem of women, theoretical and empirical studies had to be done first. On the other hand, in relation to the development of the women’s movement, the discovery of the unknowns of women’s labour, the use of feminist theories and methods for this end and striving to make women’s labour worthy were on the carpet. This chapter will focus on studies concerning women’s labour after 1980. It is not possible, however, to include every relevant work in this chapter due to the space limitations.
When we look at the academic work on invisible labour in Turkey, it is seen that they begin with the question of which analysis framework would make the task at hand easier (Ecevit 2011: 141). The article “Housewives” (1982) written by Ferhunde Özbay, who uses a feminist writing style, focuses on the meaning of housewife and the forms of labour corresponding to labour categories. Feminist writers such as Şirin Tekeli, Fatmagül Berktay and Yıldız Ecevit also take up the issue of women’s labour in their articles published in the special issue of “The Problem of Women” of the social research journal titled Yapıt in 1985. Women in the 1980s of Turkey in Terms of Women’s Point of View, which was published in Turkey after the Kessel Symposium in 1986, is one of the important studies ←220 | 221→discussing the issue of patriarchy. In 1992, the translations of the articles of Delphy, Molyneux and Hartmann were collected by Gülnur Acar Savran and Nesrin Tuna in a book titled Women’s Invisible Labour: On a Material Feminism. Concepts such as invisible labour and patriarchal capitalism have also started being used in Turkey, thanks to this book.
Among the pioneers of the studies on the distinction of paid and unpaid female labour, which is one of the most fundamental dichotomies regarding the categorization of female labour in Turkey, are the studies on the concepts of housework and unpaid labour published in the journal called Kaktüs in 1988 (Memiş & Özay, 2011: 250). These studies tackle the definition of unpaid labour, its differences from the other types of labour, the question of whether they produce any economic value, what type of activities they cover, and so on. Although unpaid labour is within the subject field of economics, economists have not shown much interest in the issue and the contribution has come mainly from social scientists. That being said, economics is also included in this chapter in addition to the works of social scientists.
3 Capitalism and unpaid domestic labour
The term ‘patriarchy’ is commonly identified with male domination – the chief cause of women’s oppression. The exploitation and oppression of women today is expressed through ‘capitalism’. But it is not enough to use the concept of capitalism alone. As Mies emphasizes, capitalism cannot function without patriarchy and the uninterrupted capital accumulation process cannot reach its goal without the patriarchal female–male relations (2011 95).
Women’s labour in the home is shaped in accordance with two ways. The first of them is ensuring the continuity of generations and the second is the daily reproduction of labour power. As being mandatory and interdependent phenomena in terms of capitalist system and patriarchal social order, both identify the domestic activities of women. Ensuring the continuity of generations, i.e. human production, involves bringing the child to the world, raising him / her and providing him / her with the necessary education. All of this process necessitates the use of concrete labour on humans. On the other hand, in order for the capital to expand and reproduce itself, it is necessary to prepare the power of labour daily. Women’s contribution to production and reproduction is often described as a function of their ‘nature’. Since birth is regarded as humans’ mutual interaction with nature, it is regarded as an act belonging to nature. When taken together with the concept of labour, childbirth and raising children as well as the rest of the household chores are not considered as labour ←221 | 222→due to the biological identification of women’s interaction with nature (Mies, 2011: 103–104). Women fulfil the biological and physical needs of their family members and make them ready for the next day. While women do household chores like cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, they also transform the purchased raw materials into consumable goods and thereby create value. If these consumable goods were to be purchased directly from the market, then that would impose extra charge on the household. These activities, which are considered as women’s duties, also reveal the social status of the woman and their role in the household. Such work done by women is perceived as being included in the roles of femininity. Acar Savran (2002) contends that the distinction between home and workplace and the assignment of domestic labour to women put women in a disadvantaged position in industrialized societies, and places the concept of patriarchy at the centre of the domestic labour debates. Patriarchy and capitalism, which support and strengthen each other, also provide the continuity of women’s disadvantageous position. The woman, who is held responsible for making the domestic production, does not have any expectation in return for her labour. Topçuoğlu states that women view domestic work as a kind of a sacred duty entrusted to them by the society, and they do not even dare to complain about it (1978: 105). Ecevit and Karkıner (2011) remark on the fact that women’s activities in the home are regarded as worthless while men work outside the home and get paid. Regarding female labour, patriarchy is the ideology that leads the ignored labour to be perceived as “there is nothing to be seen anyway” and the consciousness that conceals any cover-ups (Ecevit; 2011: 123–125).
In all phases of capitalism, the balance between home and work can be sustained by domestic labour. For this reason, women’s participation in production outside the home is prevented. The continuity of capitalism depends on the male labour force to be at a desired level in terms of quantity and quality, and hence it also depends on women’s carrying out the duties they undertake in the home. Women try to do these services that are taken to be in their responsibility in the best way with the teachings of the socialization process. In the capitalist system, if the woman works outside the home as a salaried employee and hires a domestic helper for the household chores, she can continue working only if she can afford to pay the domestic helper. If she is not paid enough to cover the costs of the domestic helper, then it is thought that she does not need to work, which is a primary marker of the sexist attitude in the society. Therefore, even women’s working as a salaried employee does not suffice to rescue them from their domestic responsibilities (Işık & Serdaroğlu, 2015: 8; Memiş & Özay, 2011: 251–257; Savran 2002).←222 | 223→
Davidoff notes that domestic work is culturally and historically specific, and it varies according to societies and time (2002: 144). This diversity is also available in the distinction between rural and urban areas. In the studies that distinguish invisible labour based on their specificity, women’s unpaid labour is examined in different ways and different subcategories like women’s domestic labour, women’s labour in family businesses, care labour, emotional labour, and labour used in the informal sector. Hattatoğlu (2010) considers women’s unpaid labour in five categories. The first category involves housework, spouse and childcare, care of the sick and elderly. The second category consists of domestic production such as durable food production, knitting, and clothing. The third is unpaid family labour, the fourth is social relations labour, and the fifth is saving labour. Özbay (1982, 1990) classifies women’s labour in accordance whether it is recognized as an economic activity and whether it has monetary value. Beneria also categorizes invisible women’s labour as domestic labour, voluntary labour, informal labour and subsistence labour (1999, 2003). Since domestic labour is discussed above, other invisible forms of labour will be addressed below.
4 Women’s labour in subsistence production/family businesses
Aruoba (1973) notes that subsistence labour generally encompasses the labour of small family businesses that consumes much of what it produces and takes a small portion of it to the market. Delpy (2008) states that invisible labour is not only limited to domestic work and child rearing in the context of domestic labour, but also includes production for the market. In this context, she suggests that there is no difference between the labour used in domestic services and the labour used in the production of services and goods produced and consumed in family businesses. The labour that is used when some of the products produced in the home are consumed at home is the labour of ‘subsistence’ production. However, if these products are produced to be sold in the market, female labour is now considered as a labour force. When the subsistence production consumed for vital needs is traded, that is to say commercialized, the invisible labour becomes replaced with paid labour. In particular, women’s labour used in the production of agricultural products (e.g. women’s growing tomatoes and making tomato paste at home) is a non-productive labour if the goods produced are for their own consumption at home. However, if some of these goods are consumed at home while the rest is being sold in the market, that is, if it is commercialized, it is called productive labour. This situation, in which production and consumption are interconnected and intertwined, is compatible with a pre-capitalist mode of production. Kandiyoti questions the ←223 | 224→consequences of rural transformation for women in Turkey, emphasizing that it is not enough to look at the changing roles of women in their participation in the production process, and that the transformation of village patriarchy should also be examined (1997: 6).
It seems that women’s labour in family businesses is similar to that of subsistence production and women’s control over their own labour is limited. Modernization in agriculture especially in rural areas and commercial marketing have led to the disadvantageous position of women. Men have maintained their dominance in commercial activities in mechanized agriculture. Rebuilding power in the house and in the public arena during the addition of mechanization in agriculture to the capitalist production militate in favour of men. Despite the fact that women have an important role in agriculture, they remain as unpaid family workers because their labour is not given its due value. In the research carried out by Sirman in the Tuz village (1993: 253), the study carried out by Ilcan in the Saklı village (1994: 566), there are findings revealing that the invisibility of women’s labour in the rural area continues and that men maintain their domination in mechanistic agriculture and commercial activities.
Women’s being unpaid family workers is quite common. While women generate surplus value at their husband’s or father’s business as a free family worker, women’s labour remains both in service of and in control of men. In the historical and structurally constructed social division of labour, the labour of women who work in the field and breed animals is considered as free labour, while men earn money by turning use value into conversion value in the public sphere. Traditionally, male ideology-based power relations have restricted women’s participation in commercial activities. Many researches show that men are responsible for the distribution and sale of goods when women are responsible for producing them (Sirman 1993, Ilcan 1994). Women’s labour is included in the production of agricultural products as well as in small commercial family businesses, but it often remains as an unpaid labour. Dedeoğlu (2010) suggests that women actually work as subsistence labour in her study of how women’s labour in workplaces, which are mostly family businesses, is becoming invisible.
5 Care labour and emotional labour
Caregiving labour and emotional labour are concepts that are often present together in women’s labour. Elderly / patient care includes domestic production and shopping as well as emotional ties. Women’s domestic unpaid labour, in particular, care labour has long been regarded as emotional labour and has been evaluated outside the concept of work (Acar Savran 2002, Beneria 1999). Emotional ←224 | 225→labour is a kind of work that evokes motherly feelings and emotions such as care, understanding, love, compassion, patience. Since these types of characteristics are considered to be the natural characteristics of women, even when the caring activities undertaken by women and men are carried out institutionally, women who work in the same job as men have lower wages than men. This is related to gender. For responsibilities of women as a wife and maternal responsibilities that are considered as natural responsibilities of women, domestic production activities or caring services are seen as women’s jobs when occupational stratification is categorized as female and male jobs. The jobs / professions of women and men are historically and socially stereotyped in terms of sex and class.
Razavi (2007) states that care activity involves subjectivity and cannot be viewed as independent from the caregiver because of the labour’s being dependent on the person. She asserts that the emotional attachment formed with the person cared for distinguishes caregiving from other types of marketed labour. Women’s domestic labour and unpaid care labour are labour categories that are difficult to distinguish from each other in practice. Even if women are willing to work, their being able to work depends on the allowance of the men in the family (father, husband, brother) when the care of the children, house chores, people at home waiting for service are at stake. Regulation of childcare is a priority, especially in the case of working women with children. Grandmother, neighbour, relative, nursery / day-care centre who will take care of the child needs to be arranged. If the wage of women is not enough to afford the expenses of home and childcare, women can give up working. The fact that the social security system is regulated on the basis of the employment also leads women doing house chores and care work to be excluded from the social security system. Since paid work is described as ‘work’, unpaid housework and care work are excluded from the social security system. Care works not only prevent women from working in a paid job, but also cause women to be deprived of the future security provided by the social security system. Koray emphasizes that the demand for consideration and assessment of care labour has not been realized anywhere and these works are still considered worthless in the marketplace. She states that care work is still being carried out thanks to third-world women and the contempt for these works continues and increases combined with immigration and alienage even if there are better places in the labour market for some women (2011: 330).
Razavi divides care labour into two groups: paid and unpaid. Care jobs done as a salaried employee in the process called feminization / informalization of the service sector such as nursing, childcare, and nursing care are more commonly referred to as institutionalized care labour. However, if the care labour is performed without getting paid, it is called unpaid care labour.←225 | 226→
Care work is often deemed as dull, because it is a daily routine and takes a significant amount of women’s time, thereby leaving no free or leisure time for women. Thus, it does not allow women to improve themselves. However, it is possible for these works that women do to be institutionalized. The burden on women can be alleviated greatly by providing public services, study centres, day care centres or units with low prices for care of children, the elderly and the disabled. Ecevit contends that it should not be forgotten that there is a direct relationship between the liberation of women and the socialization and institutionalization of care services, and what really matters is not to ease the burden on women, but rather to socially sort out care services, which are a social responsibility (2015: 218). In her article that discusses the effects of caregiving on employment and the nature of caregiving, Öztürk emphasizes that the burden of care determines whether to participate in employment, to withdraw from employment, to participate in vocational training, promotion at work, access to social security system and what work to do (2011: 60). Due to the low rate of female employment in Turkey, care labour is not regarded as a social policy issue requiring urgent attention and its institutionalization is not on the agenda either.
6 Women’s labour in informal economy
The production and exchange relations outside the formal economy, which is under record, constitute a precarious area. The informal space expanding through globalization and the application of neoliberal policies since the 1980s has become widespread with temporary, low-wage, unsecured forms of employment that do not have rights such as collective bargaining, unionization and social security.
In developing countries, various researches have been conducted on gender and the place of women in the informal sector (Nelson 1988; Beneria & Roldan 1987; Harrison 1991). In his research done in a Nairobi squatter settlement in 1988, Nelson evaluates the differential treatment of men and women in the informal sector along with the sexual division of labour and gender ideology. In Harrison’s study conducted in Jamaica, it is also emphasized that the share of cheap, flexible female labour for unskilled work in the informal sector is increasing rapidly. Researches show that women in the informal sector face similar challenges.
Informal employment in Turkey has become widespread since the 1980s. In the researches, the growth of informal sector has been explained by the decline of agricultural employment, the inability to create employment in the industry, and the fact that women without salaried work experience have to settle for jobs ←226 | 227→in the informal sector (Başlevent & Onaran, 2003). In the study conducted by Kümbetoğlu, User and Akpınar in 2010 on women working off the record in textile, food and service sectors, the conditions of precarious employment, very low wages, long working hours and compulsory night shift were investigated. In her study, Toksöz (1999) deals with the prevalence of women’s working in garment industry and contract manufacturing.
There is a debate about the numerical data on employees in the informal sector. For example, Ecevit (1998) argues that numerical data on the informal field does not adequately reflect female employment. Özar (1996) claims that the proportion of women in the informal sector is lower than it is assumed to be. Hattatoğlu (2010) contends that home-based work is the kind of work where the exploitation occurs mostly. Atasü-Topçuoğlu (2010) conducted a research on women working at home around Ankara and found that home-based work did not strengthen women’s domestic status, nor did they know for whom they produced the goods.
There are field surveys on women’s realizing their own strengths by means of their personal income and the empowerment of women by boosting this strength. Memiş and Özay (2011) mention the emergence of conflicting findings in field surveys conducted in Turkey on the participation of women in family decisions in connection with their earning their own income at home-based works and making a difference in the sexist division of labour within the family. Atasü-Topçuoğlu (2010) concluded that home-based working did not strengthen women’s position within the family. In her research done in Istanbul, Hattatoğlu (2010) emphasizes that personal income has the potential for empowerment of women. In her research conducted in Istanbul, Moçoş (2005) addresses different outcomes that different home-based forms of work yields in terms of women’s recognizing their own labour and their seeing that their labour has a value. In researches, it is seen that forms of organization have different effects on the empowerment of women. The unionization and organization that will protect the rights of women in home-based works where exploitation is highly common is scarce. The fact that the cost of production is often covered by women is similar to the form of small commodity production that is a pre-Marxist mode of production and workers have no bargaining power.
7 The economic value of unpaid labour and its measurement
The fact that domestic labour has no market value and thereby cannot be measured since unpaid labour is not objectified contrary to free labour is generally accepted by the economists. However, different theorists have made efforts to ←227 | 228→measure unpaid labour, which produces economic value. Those who argue that the value of unpaid labour cannot be measured emphasize the features of such labour like its being unclear and emotional and indicate that it is not possible to measure domestic labour using economic methods and techniques (Secombe 1974, Bergmann, 1995). It is suggested that invisible labour is not quantitatively measurable, because there are no distinctions like working time, resting time, leisure time, working hours, and any effort to increase female employment will be more efficient than these efforts.
Contrary to the view that unpaid labour cannot be measured economically, feminists have drawn attention to dimensions that have not been previously revealed about gender inequality and have tried to develop tools for measurements. Time sheets were used to calculate the total time spent on unpaid labour activities such as cooking, cleaning and voluntary care. Surveys were utilized in the collection of the data and charts were made by determining how much time adults spend on particular activities during the day. Such studies prove to be helpful in the comparison of women’s and men’s unpaid labour load.
The first application of time sheet was carried out on industrial workers in Moscow in the 1920s. Later on, its scope was extended and applied to civil servants, farmers and unemployed, and time usage patterns were tried to be obtained. Later, information was collected at the local level in many countries with smaller-scale implementations of it. As time-use datum are being made nationwide, large-scale time sheets were formed in many countries.
In Turkey, a time-use survey was first conducted by Turksat in 2006 and measurements of women’s domestic activities were made. The findings gained by the observation of weekdays and weekends show that women spend four times the amount of time men share for the household care and the care of family members in Turkey. As the first quantified data on unpaid labour, these findings show how striking the distinction between unpaid labour of men and women is. In a research done by Memiş & Özay (2011), it was determined that the unpaid labour load of married men decreased by 38% compared to their bachelorhood whereas women’s load increased by 49%. It has been found that men share household chores when the first child is born, but they do not continue sharing these tasks as the number of children increases, and women turn into ‘housewives’ in the life cycle.
Since many women have had to devote a large part of their time to the care of the household members, they either have no time at all or have to devote a limited amount of time to paid work. It can be said that this situation does not change much when women are employed in paid work (Esping-Andersen, 2011: 51). Özateş notes that the restrictions on paid working time do not result ←228 | 229→in men’s feeling more responsibility towards housework and care responsibilities by changing the sexist division of labour (2015: 32–33). This assessment shows that while men are allocating their time to paid work, women have to allocate their time to both paid and unpaid works. Statistics show that in European Union countries, men spend an average of 41 hours per week on paid work and 3 hours on domestic work and 5 hours on childcare while women spend an average of 34 hours on paid work and 24 hours on domestic work and childcare. However, there is no equalization in the use of time for women and men in any country (http:ec.europa.eugender-equality/files). There are many examples and discussions in Selma James’ et al., (2010) work “Gender, Race, Class” on the calculation of the amount of labour that a woman spends in the home. According to a survey conducted in China, women will receive $ 134,000 a year if they are paid for their work at home. This corresponds to a high amount based on economic standards in China.
The results of studies measuring the economic value of unpaid labour show that the contribution of women to household income is high even though there seems to be no market value of their labour. In their study on the measurement of the economic value of household production, Kasnakoğlu and Dayıoğlu (1996) found that unpaid labour is effective at low-income households as much as half of household income, that is, at a very high level. Kasnakoğlu and Dayıoğlu (2002) calculated the share of women’s production in household income by using three different levels of wage (minimum wage, wage cost in the market and multiple wage) based on the pilot survey data in 1996. The share of women in household income was found to be 31%, 39% and 40%, while the in-house production values of men were 10%, 13% and 18%. Gündüz (2008) discovers that household labour corresponds to 24–45% of the economic value produced in Turkey and the share of women in this value changes between 79–89%. Therefore, these studies show how important women’s unpaid labour is in terms of household income as well as in terms of national accounts. In addition, Özbay has found that labour statistics do not provide a healthy picture of women’s participation rates in production (1990: 150). Studies show that even though housewives are assumed not to be active in economics, they spent time on paid activities such as conducting a poll (Bahçe and Memiş 2010) illustrate the necessity of redefining economic concepts in reaching the right information.
In the researches about reducing the negative effects by the household members during the economic crisis periods, there are studies showing that the participation of women in the labour force is increasing. Kızılırmak (2008) stated that women’s participation in the workforce has been increased to compensate for the loss of income in the 2001 crisis in Turkey. In times of crisis, ←229 | 230→women’s unpaid labour load increases, and goods and services are covered by unpaid domestic production of women due to increased unemployment and decreased household incomes (Floro et al., 2009). In the study conducted by Bahçe and Memiş (2010), it is stated that the time women spend on unpaid work increased by 15% and men’s increased by 5% in the period of 2008–2009 crisis in Turkey. Economic crises also lead to reduced spending on free public services, as well as increasing domestic health and care responsibilities for women (Antonopoulos & Memiş 2009).
In addition to learning about how women and men use their time, social scientists make use of these data in making inferences about the level of welfare and living standards of the individuals in society. Advocating human-centred approach instead of the meta-centred approach, Sen argues that women’s labour is left out while the contributions made to the common welfare of the family are being calculated, but the contributions of the paid jobs done outside the home to the welfare of the family become visible (2004: 268). The United Nations has also taken feminist criticisms into account and decided to ensure that unpaid labour is measured, but care work is left out of the scope.
8 Economic and feminist approaches and unpaid labour
Although the number of studies on women is high in the economic literature, these studies do not cover all aspects of women’s labour. The main reason for this shortcoming is the application of conceptual schemas, which have masculine bias in the economic tradition. The feminist approach advocates that all relations in the economic arena should be examined by economics on the basis of the unity of human life without taking any differences into account and separating the economic from the social and political. The feminist approach redefines economy with human-centred concepts because fulfilment of the vital requirements is achieved regardless of how or in what form the production is made. Feminist economics is not aimed at creating a women-dominated economy that does not involve males, but rather it aims to re-examine and question the economy in a way that includes the female perspective. Feminist economics aims at addressing issues in a way freed from societal, racist and other biases and from a rich perspective that takes into account social, historical, cultural contexts involving both male and female experiences.
Western feminist researchers question the reasons for the ignorance of women’s unpaid labour in the understanding of dominant economics. Memiş and Özay argue that this situation is related to the need to maintain the power of the dominant economic view on the one hand and to the fundamental ←230 | 231→dynamism of the capitalist economy on the other (2011: 246). According to the first view, it is emphasized that the continuation of the masculine point of view of the economic tradition and the distance of the feminist approach from the gendered point of view are related to the efforts of the dominant economic view to maintain its power. In the second view, it is stressed that the production and exchange of marketed commodities with exchange value in the market constitute the basic dynamism of the capitalist economy. As highlighted in the study of Bahçe and Memiş (2010), there is a production area, which rises behind the visible economy and outside the market, and this is where mostly women work. The ‘things’ that sustain the households have been continued to be produced without interruption and without any market value in this invisible world. Regardless of how and where they are produced, the production of these vital needs should be the subject of study of economics.
The economics that deals only with activities that define market changes and leaves the services like in-house production, reproduction, care that are not subject to capitalist production relations out of its scope has been criticized by feminist economics that focuses on women’s activities, women’s experiences, women’s perspective and produces policies accordingly. Activities that are important for the maintenance of life but which are not paid and are defined within the family and household responsibilities of women make the women dependent on men and determine their social position. While the invisibility of in-home labour is associated with the complexity of the work system established in the home, there are studies showing that the amount of labour women does at home can be calculated and reflected in national income accounts. The data obtained using time sheets show that the contribution of women’s unpaid labour to household incomes is high. The results indicate that the concepts related to labour, which enable the epistemological maintenance of the economic tradition, are to be examined and re-defined without making distinctions like paid–unpaid, male–female. Thus, feminist economics puts forward a radical critique by pointing to the limits of the masculine economics so as to broaden its scope in a way that includes the point of view of economics, and calls for focusing on women’s activities in addition to men’s activities in terms of women’s perspective and adopting a holistic approach that includes women’s experiences and producing policies for women’s labour.
There is no doubt that academic studies have contributed significantly to the issue of women’s unpaid labour. In the future, the development of new concepts, the production of analytical tools, the development of research techniques related ←231 | 232→to unpaid labour and the diversification of the studied subjects by means of the increasing number of researches in the field of feminist economics will contribute to the increase of the existing knowledge and production of policies related to women.
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