When Adam blogs: cultural work and the gender division of labour in Utopia

Ursula Huws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Taking as its starting point the current resurgence of interest in Utopian alternatives to capitalist forms of production, including those based on cultural co-production, this chapter takes a critical look at Utopias, from Thomas More to the present day, which propose idealized future societies in which people are emancipated from exploitative labour relations. It examines the ways in which these Utopias have envisaged cultural labour – whether as specialist artistic occupations or as a general creative dimension of all labour – and relates this to the gender divisions of labour envisaged for these idealized societies. It concludes that most Utopias fail to imagine future changes in the social division between paid and unpaid work. Where these have gone beyond a model of small self-sufficient agrarian communities, even if they have envisaged changes in the technical division of labour, they have reproduced existing gender divisions of labour, excluding unpaid reproductive work from their visions of emancipation and work-sharing. In so doing, they have constructed cultural labour as something which is supported invisibly by the reproductive labour of others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-173
Number of pages15
JournalSociological Review
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • utopia;division of labour;history;capitalism;reproductive labour


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