Unproductive Workers and State Repression

Kirstin Munro, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Original published version available at https://doi.org/10.1177%2F04866134211043284


Social Reproduction Theory, as advanced by scholars such as Bhattacharya (2017) and Ferguson (2019), is at its core a theory of the revolutionary capacity of “unproductive” workers such as teachers, nurses, and social workers who are disproportionately women and disproportionately employed by the state. However, Social Reproduction Theory overlooks the contradictory and antagonistic role of the state in the lives of people, as the reproduction of labor power in capitalism proceeds via antagonism and state repression. The task of teachers, nurses, and social workers is the production of not just any life but that of a docile, exploitable worker.