Abstract

Abstract:

This article analyzes the discourses of the care crisis and its implications for how we understand the practices of care. Contemporary efforts to revalue “care” in some activist and scholarly circles mark a shift away from Fordist demands of workers’ rights simply because one works to a neoliberal model of justifying rights because of a worker’s emotional investment in their labor. The care discourse premises the collective social good on ensuring that the more privileged are well cared for while making the needs of the less privileged contingent on the well-being of the better off. This article argues that a Black feminist analysis and the language of social reproduction are better frameworks for understanding the labor of care in the context of neoliberal social and economic relations. I draw on my research on domestic worker activists in the 1970s who resisted characterizations of their work as care or love, terms they associated with the framework of “one of the family,” which was a basis for underpayment and exploitation. Instead, they demanded equal labor rights and insisted that their work be treated the same as all other forms of labor. I conclude by pointing to models of collective care, justice healing, and radical care as one possible way forward.

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