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The Gendered Order of Caring: Care Commanders and Care Footsoldiers Presentation to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, European Year of Equal Opportunities.

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Presentation on theme: "The Gendered Order of Caring: Care Commanders and Care Footsoldiers Presentation to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, European Year of Equal Opportunities."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Gendered Order of Caring: Care Commanders and Care Footsoldiers Presentation to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, European Year of Equal Opportunities November 20 th 2007, Dublin

2 2 Unpaid Carers of adults and persons with a disability (Census 2006) 4.8% are carers (160,917) 2006 Census Women comprise 62% of such carers 5.9% of women over 15 years are carers of this kind Source Vol. 11, 2006 Census, Carers Section, 2006 Census Men comprise 38% of such carers 3.6% of men are carers of this kind Source: Vol. 11, 2006 Census, Carers Section,

3 3 Patriarchy in numbers: Making care invisible by not measuring all of it Within the Census, care is defined as being given by “ persons aged 15 years and over” who provide “regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability (including problems due to age)” (CSO, 2007: 63) This fails to count the largest body of unpaid care workers in the State – Carers of children and those who are carers of adults + children Women are almost 2.5 times as likely to be the carers of children compared with men

4 4 All types of Carers aged 16+ (almost 1.2 million) (2001) European Community Household Panel Survey (ECHP) Type of CareFemale MaleTotalTotal Pop. Carer % % % % Care of children only34.014.0 24.0 85.0 Care of persons due to Illness, age or disability 3.02.0 2.0 8.0 Care of Children +adults 3.00.0 2.0 7.0 No Care responsibility60.0 84.0 72.0 N/A Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

5 5 Hours spent caring The modal or most typical hours of work for women carers is 61+ hours per week (40% do these hours) The modal or most typical hours of work for men carers is 14-28 hours per week (40% do these hours); Only 6% of men do 61+ hours caring compared with 40% of women 40% or four out of every ten women believe that their care work and lack of care supports prevents them doing the amount and kind of paid care work they would like to do; just 8% of men think this (ECHP, 2001) (Irish Census only measures hours at caring to a Max. of 43+ hours thereby underestimating long hours at care work)

6 6 The Economic Costs of Unpaid Caring for women Income differentials: In 2004 the average income for all women aged 15-84 was € 19,512 while it was € 29,691 men; when you control for hours in paid work women ’ s pay is 86% of men ’ s in 2004 –BUT Ways of measuring gender income differentials underestimate levels of gender inequality as women own far less wealth – land/capital/property than men e.g. almost 90% of farmers are men –The average income of women aged 55-65 is only 53% of men ’ s –In 2005 52.5% of women in employment (aged 20-69) had no pension provision other than the state pension (and neither did 45.6% of men) Women in Ireland have the highest risk of poverty of all women in the 27 EU countries (Table 1.14) and men have the 3rd highest risk CSO, 2006: 19) –23% of Irish women are at risk of poverty compared with 12% in the Netherlands 9% in the Czech Republic and 17% in Latvia which is one of the poorest EU countries (Source: CSO, Women and Men in Ireland Report :2006) Ireland ’ s low Social expenditure on welfare, health and education is a major equality issue

7 7 Are Social Expenditures a way of compensating for inequalities in wealth in Ireland? No Country Total Social Expenditure % on Education % on Health »as a % of GDP as a % of GDP as a % of GDP Sweden France45.75.89.7 Netherlands27.65.19.1 UK26.45.37.7 Slovenia25.36.18.2 Czech Repub. Ireland Lithuania14.15.95.7 Social Expenditures have decreased from 1994 (19.7% of GDP) to 2006 (15.9%) Source: Tables, 4.1 and 4,2, Central Statistics Office (CSO) Measuring Ireland’s Progress, 2006. accessed at October 12 th

8 8 Inequality in Love and Care – in the doing of care and love work – gender issues Women’s exploitation as carers is the principal form of exploitation that applies specifically to them as women Most care labour is unpaid so women suffer a direct material loss in both the short and long term; the doing of care work leaves others (mostly men) free to advance their material and social status and enjoy more leisure Rich and powerful (decision-makers) can claim immunity from care responsibilities –they are ‘Care Commanders’ – being a leader or manager is almost synonymous with being a care commander Women are Care’s Foot soldiers – they do the everyday work of care – it is assumed that it comes ‘naturally’

9 9 How do we understand the subordinate status of women? The impact of Conceptions of Citizenship Liberal, Social democratic view prevails within the EU– citizen is as person with a range of rights, civil, political, social and economic rights: employed persons are best protected. The adult citizen is defined as an autonomous person (employed worker of a particular nationality) It ignores community & voluntary work, care work and love work generally work that is not for gain/profit) Traditionally citizenship is equated with the public sphere: –citizen is defined as an economic actor –citizen is defined as a socio-cultural actor –citizen is defined as a political actor

10 10 Problems with Liberal conceptions of Citizenship for Women Ignores the reality of dependency and interdependency Implicitly and often explicitly equate citizenship with being a ‘paid worker’ – not everyone can be employed and all of us are not employed for much of our lives Silence on the reality of human dependency and interdependency: in so doing it is silent on much of the care and love work that women do without pay and that leaves they vulnerable to the control and abuse of others Feminist Egalitarian perspective – emphasises the fact that the citizen is also a U niversal caregiver and care receiver – a person who has citizenship with or without paid employment –based on a relational rather than autonomous view of the person – sees the citizen as independent, interdependent and dependent

11 11 Neo-liberal concept of the citizen prioritises the economic citizen The neo-liberal ‘citizen is seen as an employed worker and economic maximiser and consumer. ‘a hypothetical man supposed to be free from altruistic sentiments and motives interfering with a purely selfish pursuit of wealth and its enjoyment.’ Moral endorsement of the CARE-LESS model of the citizen in neo- liberalism – ‘ideal worker is a Zero-Load worker’ – person with no care responsibilities The market has become the primary producer of cultural logic and cultural value – encapsulated in the metaphor of ‘choice’ - Rational choice theory’s explanation for women staying at home to do care work – free choice-(H. Becker, C. Hakim) Self-interested economic model is blind to the rationalities of caring which are not governed by purely economic self-centred calculation.

12 12 Rational Economic Actor (REA) Model of the Citizen- citizen valued for performance Competing Rational Economic Actors O = Self interested, Calculating, Competing Economic Actors. X = Competition Between Actors.

13 13 Why care, love and solidarity matter ‘ While conditioned in fundamentally significant ways by cultural considerations, dependency for humans is as unavoidable as birth and death are for all living organisms. We may even say that the long maturation process of humans, combined with the decidedly human capacity for moral feeling and attaching, make caring for dependents a mark of humanity.’ (Kittay, 1999: 29). 4 Major reasons Survival – depends on care Human flourishing – needs caring Care involves work – practical and sentient work Care produces outcomes – human beings capable of enjoying and being fulfilled in life. It provides for: general health and well being; a sense of belonging, of being important or appreciated, a mutual sense of being needed, desired and wanted. The absence of love and care produces loneliness, isolation and illness, especially mental illness and psychological distress

14 14 CARE-FULL Model of the Citizen – Relational Perspective: Concentric circles of caring From Lynch, K., (2007) ‘Love Labour as a distinct and non-commodifiable form of care labour, Sociological Review, Vol 55, No. 3: 550=570 Tertiary Care Relations – solidarity work Secondary Care Relations – general care work Primary Care Relations – love labour

15 15 Defining Love Labour It involves emotional and other work oriented to the enrichment and enablement of others and the bonds between self and others: –It is both a sentient (thinking, and planning for others, attentiveness, managing relations and conflict, and non-sentient activity (practical tasks) It involves the creation and transformation of persons and relationships; The object is the enrichment of other persons and the reinforcement of the relationship itself It is a set of perspectives and orientations integrated with tasks: –attentiveness to the needs of others; responsibility; commitment –Interdependency and mutuality involved– often spread over time and unevenly distributed Moral imperatives on women to undertake love labour and care labour Love labour is often experienced as both burden and pleasure

16 16 Care Labour and Love Labour All love labour involves caring but not all caring involves love labour: you can care for someone without feeling emotionally attached to them Paid care is an important supplement to love labour but does not replace it as there is a mutuality and commitment at the heart of intimacy that is not commodifiable You cannot commodify the feelings and intentions of others or the quality of a given relationship To attempt to pay someone to do a love labour task (having a meal with a partner, visiting a friend in hospital, going to play a game together, reading a story to a child or changing an ageing parent’s bed linen) is to undermine the premise of care and mutuality that is at the heart of intimacy and friendship Other Issues TIME: Time is a scarce resource, you can buy other peoples but not increase your own: Crises in society over time for love labour Conflict between caring values and capitalist values (other-directed work and self- directed work) Two different ethical principles are in conflict in our society –self interest principle and the other-centred principles- Debate is repressed – we ‘pass’ as not having these conflicts or keeping them in the private sphere

17 17 Primary care (love) relations and secondary care relations In the concentric circles of interdependency, we tentatively suggest that love relations refer to relations of high interdependency where there is greatest attachment, intimacy and responsibility over time. They arise from inherited or contractual dependencies or interdependencies and are our primary care relations. Love relations are either chosen relations (close friendships, partners) built around intimacy, commitment and belongingness, or relations of obligation that are inherited or derived from the deep dependencies that are integral to our existence as relational beings (child care relations being the most obvious type). Secondary care relations are lower order interdependency relations. While they involve care responsibilities and attachments, they do not carry the same depth of moral obligation in terms of meeting dependency needs, especially long-term dependency needs. There is a degree of choice and contingency about secondary care relations that does not apply to primary relations.

18 18 Tertiary care relations ‘Solidarity is the Social Form of Love’ Tertiary care relations refer to relations of solidarity and do not involve intimacy. Sometimes solidarity relations are chosen, such as when individuals or groups work collectively for the well being of others whose welfare is only partially related to their own (as in trade union solidarity or campaigns for environmental protection), or whose welfare is not immediately related to their own well being (as in global solidarity). It also applies to our democratically agreed solidarity responsibilities to care - via taxation and the redistribution of wealth

19 19 The inalienable is not commodifiable The rationality of caring is different from, and to some degree contradicts, scientific and bureaucratic rationality (Waerness, 1984). There is no hierarchy or career structure to relations of solidarity and love labouring. They cannot be provided on a hire and fire basis. There is no clear identifiable project with boundaries illuminating the path to the realisation of the goal. Indeed, as the goal is the relationship itself, there is no identifiable beginning, middle and end. The goal or objective is often diffuse and indefinable. The structural status of love labour ‘love labour occupies a similar structural role in relation to one's affectual life that material labour occupies in relation to the natural world. Just as use-value-creating-labour can be seen as 'an eternal natural necessity' mediating between 'man and nature' (Marx, 1976:133) so love labour is also an eternal necessity mediating human beings' relations to each other as affectual relational entities’

20 20 Why Women are exploited as Carers and Lovers The Denial of the Universal Caregiver model of the citizen has led to: – The Privatisation of the debate about care and love –Care and Love labour being made inadmissible subjects of mainstream politics –Failure to cost care work in the family sphere in economic terms and this has contributed to the trivialisation of caring and of the women who do most of the unpaid work -– no financial recognition –The non-contested gender division of care and love labour which in turn leads to a situation where the personal identity of women is highly care-driven and fostered systematically throughout society (institutionalised sexism in state and other services - primary school timetables; health services etc. – care as a ‘duty’ and as ‘natural’) –Moral imperative on women to care that does not apply to men –A sense of empowerment and moral approbation that comes with being a carer, especially in the absence of other opportunities, making caring attractive to women

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