Comforting a family member or friend, soothing children, providing company for the elderly, ensuring that people feel well enough to work; this is all essential labour. Without it, capitalism would cease to function.
In this talk, and in her book They Call It Love, Alva Gotby investigates the work that makes a haven in a heartless world, examining who performs this labour, how it is organised, and how it might change.
In her ground-breaking book, Gotby calls this work ’emotional reproduction’, unveiling its inherently political nature. It not only ensures people’s well-being but creates sentimental attachments to social hierarchy and the status quo. Drawing on the thought of the feminist movement Wages for Housework, Gotby demonstrates that emotion is a key element of capitalist reproduction. To improve the way we relate to one another will require a radical restructuring of society.