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date: 18 April 2024


The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
Sara MurphySara Murphy, Barbara Evans ClementsBarbara Evans Clements

This entry consists of two subentries:


Comparative History

Karl Marx (1818–1883) did not specifically address the broad public discussion over women's status—legal, cultural, and political—that by the mid‐nineteenth century was known as “the woman question.” Yet Marxist theory that the economic domain formed the basis upon which social, cultural, and moral practices were built offered a way of rethinking women's place in society by drawing attention to its economic determinants. Marxist thought showed, among other things, that far from being ahistorical or “natural,” women's position in society and in the family was subject to historically determined economic forces. At the same time it primarily focused on relations of production, not on relations of gender. While the Marxist tradition has produced an extraordinarily rich set of theoretical and practical tools for understanding the place of women in society and culture, feminist thinkers and activists have struggled with the formidable task of articulating gender relations with economic relations. This article will provide an overview of Marx's thinking on the place of women and of some of the complex expansions of and interventions in that thinking since Marx wrote.... ...

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