Legal Form, Commodities and Reproduction: Reading Pashukanis
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This chapter offers a feminist reading of Pashukanis’s legal theory as a contribution to critical evaluation of the relationship between legality, commodification and gender. Contemporary feminist interests in the relationship between legal and non-legal norms, in the role of commodification, and in the limits of gender as a category of analysis, make a re-engagement with Pashukanis timely. For Pashukanis, legal form constitutes subjects as if they have property rights over objects, generates exchange value, and represents differently situated subjects as if they are equal. Here I develop an account of legal form analysis that recuperates Pashukanis’s distinction between legal form and technical regulation, his theorisation of the subject of commodification, and his historical method of form/content analysis. Drawing on this critical reading of Pashukanis, I argue for the development of legal form analysis so as to accommodate the roles of social reproduction and consumption in the generation of care value and use value in commodity-exchanging societies. I illustrate this method by providing a legal form analysis of a conflict in consent rights over the use of genetically related embryos. Such an analysis asks how consent rights would extract care value from the subject’s reproductive wishes, recognise contributions to the development of the embryo, and recognise investments in the future use of that embryo. In this way, legal form analysis provides a reading of legal contributions to the generation of value from human reproductive activities without making assumptions about their gendered content.
- Department of Law