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This book presents a feminist historical materialist analysis of the ways in which the law, policing and penal regimes have overlapped with social policies to coercively discipline the poor and marginalized sectors of the population throughout the history of capitalism. Roberts argues that capitalism has always been underpinned by the use of state power to discursively construct and materially manage those sectors of the population who are most resistant to and marginalized by the instantiation and deepening of capitalism.
The book reveals that the law, along with social welfare regimes, have operated in ways that are highly gendered, as gender – along with race – has been a key axis along which difference has been constructed and regulated. It offers an important theoretical and empirical contribution that disrupts the tendency for mainstream and critical work within international political economy to view capitalism primarily as an economic relation. Roberts also offers a feminist critique of the failure of mainstream and critical scholars to analyse the gendered nature of capitalist social relations of production and social reproduction.
Exploring a broad range of issues related to the nature of the capitalist state, the creation and protection of private property, the governance of poverty, the structural compulsions underpinning waged work and the place of women in paid and unpaid labour, this book will be of great use to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students of international political economy, gender studies, social work, law, sociology, criminology, global development studies, political science and history.