Care work: Invisible civic engagement

Scholars who debate the cause of and solutions for the decline in civic engagement have suggested that Americans have increasingly withdrawn from community organizations, reducing their political activity such as voting and interest in the political world, and generally failing to place the common good over individual self-interest. Their analyses are steeped in a tradition that is largely gender blind and consequently ignores care work. We infuse feminist analyses of paid labor and citizenship, which emphasize the merits and burdens of care work, into the civic engagement debate. We argue that care work, predominantly performed by women, paradoxically limits, enhances, and even constitutes a vital form of civic activity. We call for a fuller slate of social policies that will both redistribute the burden of care work and reinvigorate civic engagement.

Scholars who debate the cause of and solutions for the decline in civic engagement have suggested that Americans have increasingly withdrawn from community organizations, reducing their political activity such as voting and interest in the political world, and generally failing to place the common good over individual self-interest. Their analyses are steeped in a tradition that is largely gender blind and consequently ignores care work. We infuse feminist analyses of paid labor and citizenship, which emphasize the merits and burdens of care work, into the civic engagement debate. We argue that care work, predominantly performed by women, paradoxically limits, enhances, and even constitutes a vital form of civic activity. We call for a fuller slate of social policies that will both redistribute the burden of care work and reinvigorate civic engagement.

File Type: 1177/089124302236991
Categories: PA Theory, Public Policy, Social Equity