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The Ethics of Care

A Feminist Approach to Human Security

Fiona Robinson

Publication Year: 2011

In The Ethics of Care, Fiona Robinson demonstrates how the responsibilities of sustaining life are central to the struggle for basic human security. She takes a unique approach, using a feminist lens to challenge gender biases in rights-based, individualist approaches.Robinson's thorough and impassioned consideration of care in both ethical and practical terms provides a starting point for understanding and addressing the material, emotional and psychological conditions that create insecurity for people. The Ethics of Careexamines “care ethics” and “security” at the theoretical level and explores the practical implications of care relations for security in a variety of contexts: women's labor in the global economy, humanitarian intervention and peace building, healthcare, and childcare.

Theoretically-innovative and policy-relevant, this critical analysis demonstrates the need to understand the obstacles and inequalities that obstruct the equitable and adequate delivery of care around the world.

Published by: Temple University Press

Series: Global Ethics and Politics (GEP)


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

I am indebted to many people for their assistance and support in the writing of this book. Carol Gould, editor of the Global Ethics and Politics series, has been encouraging and helpful from the outset. Alex Holzman at Temple University Press has been an enthusiastic and supportive editor. Kim Hutchings, Josh Keton, and Carol...

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pp. 1-20

It is likely that most people consider “care” to be important—even fundamental—to their daily lives. Most families rely on relations of care—parents care for children, and often those same parents care for their own elderly parents. Family members care for one another when they are ill; for many who are fortunate, those...

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1. The Ethics of Care and Global Politics

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pp. 21-40

While the concept of care still remains on the margins of academic analyses of social, moral, and political life, the past two decades have witnessed a remarkable growth in this field of study. Research from moral and political philosophy into the ethics of care continues to develop, and while recent books employ a diversity of approaches, they all contribute...

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2. Rethinking Human Security

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pp. 41-62

This book is not primarily a work of “security studies”; it is centrally concerned with the ways in which our normative and ontological understandings of security serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, existing relations of power, thus perpetuating and even deepening conditions of insecurity for much of the world’s population. It also seeks to rethink security by examining it through...

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3. “Women’s Work”: The Global Care and Sex Economies

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pp. 63-84

This chapter explores the human security dimensions of “women’s work” in the global economy through the lens of a critical feminist ethics of care. By “women’s work” I mean care work (including child care and care for the sick and elderly); household maintenance labor (including cleaning and food preparation); and “intimate” labor (including prostitution, other forms of sex work, and “mail-order brides”). Currently, millions of women...

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4. Humanitarian Intervention and Global Security Governance

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pp. 85-102

While most of the literature on global governance addresses the rules, norms, and institutions of global economic governance— including trade and finance—a growing body of work explores security and intervention from a governance perspective (see Griffen 2000). What this means is that the interplay of purposive activities and strategies of state and nonstate actors, formal...

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5. Peacebuilding and Paternalism: Reading Care through Postcolonialism

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pp. 103-122

This chapter considers the implications of a feminist ethics of care in the context of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Three aspects of care ethics are of particular relevance to peacebuilding. First is the recognition and acceptance of dependence and vulnerability in a variety of social contexts, and the specific moral and political responsibilities that flow from this. Violent conflict usually...

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6. Health and Human Security: Gender, Care, and HIV/AIDS

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pp. 123-142

This chapter considers HIV/AIDS in the context of human security by using the lens of the feminist ethics of care. The ethics of care refers to a moral framework characterized by an ontological commitment to relationality and care as the basis of human well-being. This leads to the weak normative position that enhancing and supporting equitable and adequate...

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7. Gender, Care, and the Ethics of Environmental Security

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pp. 143-160

From the earliest attempts at rethinking the concept of “security”— in both the academic community and at the United Nations— “the environment” has occupied a central position in these revised and expanded understandings. The defining UNDP Human Development Report of 1994 articulated seven dimensions of human security, one of which was environmental...

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Conclusion: Security through Care

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pp. 161-166

In this book, I have illustrated the extent to which relations and practices of care are central to the struggle for basic human security. I have argued that the relational perspective of feminist care ethics can provide a critical lens through which to view human social arrangements and their effects on human security. Central to the ethics...


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pp. 167-180


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pp. 181-187

E-ISBN-13: 9781439900673
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439900666

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Global Ethics and Politics (GEP)