Havens in a Heartless World

The work that keeps us clean, fed, clothed and ready to go to work each day is known as social reproduction. Without this unwaged labour, capitalism would collapse. Yet the daily drudgery of cooking, cleaning and raising children is underpinned by our most sincere expressions of love and care. Writer and organiser Alva Gotby refers to this chimerical condition as “emotional reproduction”: the essential labour of creating a haven in a heartless world.

Gotby joins Eleanor Penny on Novara FM to explain why emotions are a political issue, looking at the reality of social reproduction and the evolving impact of Wages For Housework, the 1970s feminist movement. Why are we still slightly horrified by identifying care as a form of work? Is performing gender itself a type of work? Can love ever be totally free from labour? And why is all of this still the responsibility of women?

They Call It Love: The Politics of Emotional Life, is available now from Verso.

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