The Radical Roots of Feminism in Economics

Including A Symposium on 50 Years of the Union for Radical Political Economics

ISBN: 978-1-78769-850-5, eISBN: 978-1-78769-849-9

ISSN: 0743-4154

Publication date: 7 May 2019


This contribution explores the history of women and feminism in the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) using concepts from feminist radical political economy. A feminist approach changes the categories of economic analysis to offer a new interpretation of an older history: the formation of the Women’s Caucus. I reread the early history of the feminist project in economics through the lens of social reproduction to understand the influence of life experience on practice, particularly on the 1971 women’s walkout during a URPE conference, and on economic theory. Highlighting women’s multiple roles, as graduate students, mothers, wives, girlfriends, and/or caregivers – but ultimately as women – reveals social reproduction as a site of radical politics and demonstrates the importance of reproductive labor for understanding solidarity. In doing so, the analysis provides an example of how a feminist perspective contributes uniquely to economics.




I am grateful to Laurie Nisonoff, Heidi Hartmann, Randy Albelda, Marianne Hill, and an anonymous contributor, each of whom shared personal recollections and/or documents from the period covered in this chapter. I am especially appreciative of Paddy Quick, who read and commented on multiple drafts, clarified points, and pushed me to sharpen my thinking, in addition to contributing stories. Reviewer comments strengthened the chapter; all remaining errors are my own.


Cohen, J. (2019), "The Radical Roots of Feminism in Economics", Including A Symposium on 50 Years of the Union for Radical Political Economics (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 37A), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 85-100.

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