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Caring Democracy

Markets, Equality, and Justice

Joan C. Tronto

Publication Year: 2013

Americans now face a caring deficit: there are simply too many demands on people’s time for us to care adequately for our children, elderly people, and ourselves.At the same time, political involvement in the United States is at an all-time low, and although political life should help us to care better, people see caring as unsupported by public life and deem the concerns of politics as remote from their lives. Caring Democracy argues that we need to rethink American democracy, as well as our fundamental values and commitments, from a caring perspective.
The idea that production and economic life are the most important political and human concerns ignores the reality that caring, for ourselves and others, should be the highest value that shapes how we view the economy, politics, and institutions such as schools and the family. Care is at the center of our human lives, but Tronto argues it is currently too far removed from the concerns of politics. Caring Democracy traces the reasons for this disconnection and argues for the need to make care, not economics, the central concern of democratic political life.
Joan C. Tronto is a Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care (Routledge). 

Published by: NYU Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

In my previous book, Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care, I made the claim that the world would look very different if we put care at the center of our political lives. In the intervening years, no mass movement to improve care has arisen, despite repeated attempts on the part of scholars and activists to make such a thing happen ...

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pp. xvii-xx

I am honored to be able to acknowledge the assistance that I have received from others in writing this book. The questions considered here have so preoccupied my mind that there is hardly a talk I have given, a conversation I have had, in the past nearly twenty years in which I did not learn from speaking to my interlocutors. ...

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Introduction: When Care Is No Longer “at Home”

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pp. 1-14

Let’s face it: care no longer seems to be “at home,” neither literally nor figuratively. It used to seem so simple. Politics was something that happened in public, care was something that happened in private. Many societies followed one or another form of this public/private divide. ...

Part I: Envisioning a Caring Democracy

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1. Redefining Democracy as Settling Disputes about Care Responsibilities

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pp. 17-45

Scholars have begun to talk about a “caring deficit” (Bennhold 2011; Llana 2006), using the same economic language that other scholars have borrowed to describe a “democratic deficit” (Borooah and Paldam 2007; Nye 2001; New Statesman 2000; Durant 1995). The care deficit refers to the incapacities in advanced countries to find enough care workers ...

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2. Why Personal Responsibility Isn’t Enough for Democracy

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pp. 46-64

If citizens are going to take democratic care as a central political value, how will this shift affect politics? To envision a society as caring is to envision a society engaged in the daily and extraordinary activities of meeting peoples’ needs. To envision a society as democratic and caring is to envision a society ...

Part II: How We Care Now

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3. Tough Guys Don’t Care . . . Do They? Gender, Freedom, and Care

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pp. 67-94

Ludovic, the young boy who is the protagonist in Alain Berliner’s 1997 film Ma Vie en Rose [My Life in Pink], presumed that he would someday fulfill his dream and turn into a girl. It is lucky for Ludovic that he is not a middle- or high-school boy in the United States today. ...

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4. Vicious Circles of Privatized Caring: Care, Equality, and Democracy

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pp. 95-113

Nancy Hirschmann’s (2010) essay and the subsequent discussion in the Boston Review about “mothers who care too much” explored the problem of how much caring from mothers is “enough.” Should mothers work, or should they devote themselves to their children? ...

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5. Can Markets Be Caring? Markets, Care, and Justice

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pp. 114-136

In 2009 a group of Massachusetts economists estimated the economic value of the care work done in that state. They added together the value of the twenty largest care industries, and discovered that $46.8 billion, or 13 percent, of Massachusetts’ GDP (gross domestic product) was generated by care work. ...

Part III: Imagining Democratic Caring Practices and Caring Democracies

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6. Democratic Caring

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pp. 139-168

So far this book has considered how market democracies, committed to prioritizing market values, have reached a point where they are unable to advance either the democratic goals of greater freedom, equality, and justice or the caring goals of ensuring that both care-giving and care-receiving have their proper place in society. ...

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7. Caring Democracy

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pp. 169-182

How do we do it? How do we go from a society that is primarily concerned with economic production to one that also emphasizes care? How do we change our concepts about humans so that instead of thinking of them as autonomous, we also recognize them as vulnerable and interdependent? ...


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pp. 183-190


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pp. 191-214


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pp. 215-227

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About the Author

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pp. 228-249

Joan C. Tronto is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and author of Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care.

E-ISBN-13: 9780814770450
E-ISBN-10: 0814782779
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814782774
Print-ISBN-10: 0814782779

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013