chapter  6
30 Pages

Sex and capitalism

Introduction We have considered two major critical streams which have direct bearing on the sociology of the family: the radical psychoanalytical approach of R. D. Laing and the critique of the family and of the 'roles' of the sexes presented by the radical feminists. There remains a third critical stream, one which is a little more difficult to characterize. It involves a searching examination of the relationship between sex and industrial or capitalist society, derives its impetus and inspiration largely from a fusion of Freudian and Marxian analyses and is particularly represented by writers within the tradition of the 'Frankfurt School'. This school, including among others Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, stressed the inner 'psychic' dimension of exploitation under capitalism.l It is more difficult to characterize partly because of the different emphases and conflicting interpretations of this central problem and partly because the links between the institutions of the family and sex roles on the one hand and sexuality and capitalism on the other are rarely made clear or explicit. It is an area in which speculation appears to be uncontained and it is sometimes difficult for someone like myself, untrained in psychology, to provide a competent evaluation of many of the arguments.