Black Women in the United States and Unpaid Collective Work: Theorizing the Community as a Site of Production

Citation:

Banks, Nina. 2020. “Black Women in the United States and Unpaid Collective Work: Theorizing the Community as a Site of Production.” The Review of Black Political Economy 47 (4): 343–62.

Author: Nina Banks

Abstract:

This analysis discusses the lived experiences of Black American women as the basis for a new theoretical framework for understanding women’s unpaid work. Feminist economists have called attention to the invisibility of women’s unpaid work within the private household but have not adequately considered the unpaid, nonmarket work that women perform collectively to address urgent community needs that arise out of racial and ethnic group disparities. As such, racialized women’s unpaid, nonmarket work continues to be subject to invisibility. This analysis reconceptualizes Black women’s community activism as unpaid, nonmarket “work” and illustrates that the community is a primary site of nonmarket production by Black women and other racialized women. The community is an important site where racialized women perform unpaid, nonmarket collective work to improve the welfare of community members and address community needs not met by the public and private sectors. The analysis elevates the community to a site of production on par with the household, thereby calling for a paradigm shift in feminist economic conceptualizations of unpaid work. This new framework enables us to examine intersectional linkages across different sites of production—firms, households, and communities—where multiple forms of oppression operate in structuring peoples’ lives. Compared with additive models of gender and race, this intersectional approach more fully captures the magnitude of racialized women's oppression.

Keywords: African American women, unpaid work, community work

Topics: Economies, Care Economies, Feminist Economics, Gender, Women, Intersectionality, Race Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2020

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