The Highest Stage of Capitalism 

Premilla Nadasen

Haymarket Books (October 10, 2023)

Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9781642599664 • US $19.95 • 5.5 in x 8.5 in • 304 pgs.


A powerful critique of the care economy, from its roots in racial capitalism to its explosion during the neoliberal era—and a call for alternative visions for a caring society.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, care work has been thrust into the national spotlight. But as Premilla Nadasen argues in Care: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, we have only begun to understand the massive role the labor of social reproduction plays in our lives and our economy. Drawing on the stories of domestic workers, nurses, and other care workers past and present, Nadasen traces the rise of the care economy, from its roots in slavery, where there was no clear division between production and social reproduction for Black and brown people, to the present care crisis, experienced acutely by more and more Americans. In the neoliberal era, Nadasen shows, we’ve seen the expansion of a new stage of capitalism.

Today’s care economy is an institutionalized, hierarchical system in which some people’s pain translates into other people’s profit. But this is also a story of resistance. Low-wage workers and women of color in movements from Wages for Housework and Welfare Rights to the Movement for Black Lives have continued to fight for and practice collective care. These groups help us envision how, given the challenges before us, we can create a caring world as part of a radical future. 


Premilla Nadasen is a Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. She served as president of the National Women’s Studies Association (2018-2020) and is currently co-Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Born in South Africa, Nadasen has been involved in social justice organizing for many decades and published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing. Among her many awards and fellowships are the Fulbright Visiting Professorship, the John Hope Franklin Prize, and the inaugural Ann Snitow Prize for feminist intellectual and social justice activism. Her books include Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States and Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement. She lives in the Bronx. 


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