COOL CLASSES: “Sex Under Capitalism: Intimate Relations Between Economy and Society”

This sociology course engages in debates about families as economic units, women’s bodies as social factories, gay identity’s relationship to labor and consumption, the “pricing” of unpaid care, and sex work and trafficking.

Class name: Sex Under Capitalism: Intimate Relations Between Economy and Society

Taught by: Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Shelly Ronen


Here’s what Ronen has to say about her course:

This class is about sex and capitalism—two very controversial, somewhat taboo topics. They are both everywhere, and yet, we find it uncomfortable to turn our academic gaze on them. The class approaches their intersection from a few different angles. We ask how gender and family structure shaped the origins of capitalism, how gay identity and community were enabled (or not) by capitalism, how gender affects divisions of labor, how the economy values emotional labor and care labor, the global supply chains that deliver various commodities, and how we should think about sex work and sex trafficking. I hope students will come away from the course with a critical perspective on their own sexed and gendered positions, and their places in production. I hope their curiosity will be sparked and that they continue to be scholars of the social and economic. I also hope they will come away with sharpened strategic thinking so that they can understand how to affect change in our society. We need this now more than ever.

I created this class because it’s what I like to think about. I also wonder whether students would have the opportunity to learn about sex and capitalism in the absence of this class. These are two really fundamental aspects of our human experience, so we can’t exempt them from close analysis.


See what other courses the Department of Sociology is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience.