Care and Care Work - A question of Economy, Justice and Democracy.
An inherent problem of capitalist societies has ever been that their primary orientation -- towards maximisation of profit and self-interested utility, towards optimisation of value and pursuit of particular interests, towards rationalisation and efficiency -- is in conflict with ideas of a good life not just for a few members of society, but for all. Although as modern societies they embody a promise of equal participation in material and ideational goods and associated opportunities for all members of society to engage in effective self-care and caring, their self-conception as performance societies means that this is in fact meritocratically framed. The emphasis is on the individual as autonomous and capable of self-care, while caring is at odds with this, and can best be realised in connection with participatory and need-based justice, i.e. in a framework that deems care requirements to be legitimate.
In this constellation, self-care and reciprocal care, and hence also care work, are directly linked with questions of justice and democracy. By duly accommodating the care requirements that are prerequisites for a functioning life and coexistence, they foster social integration and cohesion. Conversely, people's ways and means of caring for themselves and others and obtaining care from society play a part in determining how and to what extent they can participate economically, politically, socially and culturally in society's goods and values. Therefore, questions of justice and democracy have a place at the core of the care debate and international care research.
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