Capitalism’s sexual history

Research output: Book/ReportBook

3 Citations (Scopus)


What is the relationship between capitalism and sexuality, and why are they so often assumed to be antithetical? The book interrogates these questions by bringing together insights from two fields that have often overlooked each other, international political economy and queer theory. It develops a queer political economy lens to understand how the history of capitalism has been intimately entangled with the history of sexuality. Yet central to this story has been the construction of sexuality as something that needs to be protected from capitalism’s adulterating influence at all costs. As the author examines, this is no accident since capitalism profits greatly from the illusion that economic and sexual relations exist in distinct realms that can and must be kept apart. Focusing on the specific site of sex work in Britain, the volume draws on wide-ranging archival research to chart a genealogy of capitalist development from the Middle Ages to the present day. It shows that capitalism has long been organized around the extraction of unpaid sexual labor that, in turn, has been made possible by the creation and maintenance of a dualism between sex and work. By exposing the historical mechanisms through which the economy/sexuality dichotomy has been constituted, the book opens up new space for critical inquiry into the intersections between sex, work, and economic and sexual injustice.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages200
ISBN (Electronic)9780197530290
ISBN (Print)9780197530276, 9780197545195
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Gender and International Relations
PublisherOxford University Press

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2020.


  • British politics
  • Capitalism
  • Feminist theory
  • Gender
  • Genealogy
  • History
  • Political economy
  • Queer theory
  • Sex work
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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