As you’ll read this week, capitalism (underpinned by patriarchy and other intertwined systems of supremacy) is a system that demands care work – ‘the work of cooking, teaching, nurturing, healing, organizing, and sacralizing’ – or reproductive labor – ‘the work of caring for, nurturing, ad raising human communities’ – be undervalued and unpaid. The impacts of such a profound devaluation have been coming to light in recent years, particularly, according to this article from The Guardianhttps https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/15/covid-care-crisis-humanity-efficiency-money. and this one from NYT Magazinehttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/magazine/waged-housework.html?fbclid=IwAR058d-6GCQhbA8AGuK0TtpX2SZ7TUZIM3pVSaEYGWNN5xkAg9IsuEgn0fk, since Covid hit. As author Madeleine Bunting writes for The Guardian, ‘capitalism seeks to quantify and extract value, and when such disciplines are applied to the care worker, it is a tragedy. Because what is at stake is the reciprocity of human hearts, the need for comfort, and our innate human capacity to nurture wellbeing and ease suffering.’
Increasingly there are calls for recognizing and revaluing care – the National Domestic Workers Alliance, for example, is proposing what the creation of a social insurance fund called Universal Family Care, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/21/magazine/national-domestic-workers-alliance.html. financing ‘our care infrastructure in a way that we could finally make those jobs living-wage jobs with benefits.’ In Hong Kong, live-in migrant workers, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/mar/10/sunday-sit-in-inside-hong-kong-weekly-domestic-worker-resistance often subject to abuse and poor conditions, have organized, marched, demanded that their lives and work matters. And the pandemic fueled a growing movement in the US to pay parents to stay home https://gen.medium.com/the-u-s-should-be-paying-parents-to-stay-home-d4e1761754ab and care for kids, an idea that is prevalent in other countries. As the article explains, ‘this is not a radical idea. Other countries are finding ways to compensate parents, whether it’s the full pay given to those in France https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/06/business/europe-coronavirus-labor-help.html who can’t find care for their quarantined children, or the year of paid time off that Denmark is offering to parents whose children get ill. Japan https://hechingerreport.org/how-7-countries-are-supporting-child-care-and-families-during-the-pandemic/ has paid family leave for parents with children whose daycare has been closed, while Ireland https://hechingerreport.org/how-7-countries-are-supporting-child-care-and-families-during-the-pandemic/ is paying for three months of childcare fees.’
What do you think of the call to compensate care work as a route to re-valuing its crucial role in society? If capitalism is rooted in the devaluation of care work and reproductive labor, can it be valued and still be…capitalism? Or as Patel and Moore suggest in your chapter, do you think that ‘to imagine a world of justice in care work is to imagine a world after capitalism’?
And more broadly, reflect on how you think care should be valued in society. What, as you see it, has been the result of a society that fundamentally devalues care and caring? As you imagine alternative futures, what’s the role and place of care? What does care mean to you, and how do you value it? How do you practice it? What would a world with care at the center – a ‘kincentric’ world – look like https://humansandnature.org/decolonizing-conquest-consciousness/ ?
Consider these questions, ideas, and embedded materials and share your thoughtful reflections. Remember to make your initial response by Friday and to respond to a classmate (or two, or more!) by Sunday evening.
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Explain which are the most appropriate teaching strategies for your course and audience, and why they are the most appropriate.
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