Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale

Women in the International Division of Labour

Maria Mies
With a Foreword by Silvia Federici


A ground-breaking theory of capitalist patriarchy explaining women's exploitation from the beginning.
'It is my thesis that this general production of life, or subsistence production - mainly performed through the non-wage labour of women and other non-wage labourers as slaves, contract workers and peasants in the colonies - constitutes the perennial basis upon which "capitalist productive labour" can be built up and exploited.'

First published in 1986, Maria Mies’s progressive book was hailed as a major paradigm shift for feminist theory, and it remains a major contribution to development theory and practice today.

Tracing the social origins of the sexual division of labour, it offers a history of the related processes of colonization and 'housewifization' and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labour. Mies's theory of capitalist patriarchy has become even more relevant today.

Author Bio

Maria Mies is a Marxist feminist scholar who is renowned for her theory of capitalist patriarchy, which recognizes third world women and difference. She is a professor of sociology at Cologne University of Applied Sciences, but retired from teaching in 1993. Since the late 1960s she has been involved with feminist activism. In 1979, at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, she founded the Women and Development programme. Her other titles published by Zed include The Lace Makers of Narsapur (1982), Women: The Last Colony (1988), The Subsistence Perspective (1999) and Ecofeminism (2014).

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Silvia Federici
  • Preface to the critique influence change edition
  • Introduction
  • 1. What is Feminism?
  • 2. Social Origins of the Sexual Division of Labour
  • 3. Colonization and Housewifization
  • 4. Housewifization International: Women and the International Division of Labour
  • 5. Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Primitive Accumulation of Capital
  • 6. National Liberation and Women's Liberation
  • 7. Towards a Feminist Perspective of a New Society


'If you want to understand the roots of the economic crisis, and of violence against women, read this book. If you want to create alternatives and participate in shaping living economies, read this book. Patriarchy and Accumulation is essential reading for all, more so today than when it was first written.'
Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology and director at the International Forum on Globalization

'Feminist theory at its very best.'
Off Our Backs

'Compelling. One of the most ambitious projects undertaken by a feminist scholar in recent years.'
Deniz Kandiyoti, SOAS, University of London

'Maria Mies' vision is huge, the scale of her project breathtakingly bold.'
New Internationalist

'A major contribution to authentic development theory and practice. Women cannot hope for justice from a mode of production built on subordination either as housewife in the West or cheap labour in the third world. Mies produces an alternative feminist concept of labour and some strategic elements of its implementation. The critique is compelling.'
World Development


Publication Date: 10 July 2014
280 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 3rd Edition: 9781783601691
eBook ePub 3rd Edition: 9781783602599
eBook PDF 3rd Edition: 9781783602582
eBook Kindle 3rd Edition: 9781783602605
Library Edition 2nd Edition: 9781856497343

Previous Editions: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781856497350
Paperback 1st Edition: 9780862323424
Library Edition 1st Edition: 9780862323417

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