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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Vamsicharan Vakulabharanam

Second Advisor

Ina Ganguli

Third Advisor

Agustin Lao-Montes

Subject Categories

Political Economy


This dissertation interrogates the composition of workers, work, and class, as processes in contemporary capitalism and in other existing or future systems. The first section develops a theoretical framework to understand work and workers which draws on Autonomist Marxist, Black radical, and Marxist feminist literatures. This includes considering new forms and organizations of work that arise from current capitalist economic relations, racialized work, and reproductive work. With this framework I build a theory of racial post-Fordism as the current system of economic relations.

In the next section, I apply this theory of racial post-Fordism to work and workers in the contemporary U.S. prison system. I analyze data from the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI) to identify patterns in work assignment allocation in prisons. I find that job allocation in prisons follows a similar pattern of occupational segregation by race and gender as in the free economy. I also analyze a series of questions from the SPI which ask prison workers how important various aspects of their work are to them. There are also patterns by gender in race in these answers, and the content of the questions themselves highlights the racialized nature of prison work and work ethic.

The third section is split into two parts. The first part is a brief case study of reproductive work and the reproduction of subjectivity in the Soviet Union. I analyze archival time use data, ethnographic, and autobiographic sources, in addition to contemporary literature on reproductive work and subjectivity. Reproductive work was heavily gendered, and women continued perform the majority of it throughout the Soviet era. The second part of the third section assesses some theoretical models of future economic systems. I analyze some of the most well-known models, and consider some of the contemporary social reproduction theory literature which address the social reproduction issues that the preceding models neglect. Finally, I critique these models as lacking an adequate critique of care as a concept and practice, and make some suggestions to move towards a liberatory practice of reproductive and caring work.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.