Caring Democracy

Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality, and Justice

Joan C. Tronto
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Caring Democracy
    Book Description:

    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. Trontois a Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Minnesota. She is the author ofMoral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care(Routledge).

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7045-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Introduction: When Care Is No Longer “at Home”
    (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. Aristotle famously distinguishedpolisandoikos(household) at the beginning of thePolitics. The nineteenth-century American ideology of separate spheres gendered the public as masculine and the private as feminine. In this separation, nonpolitical concerns, including sentiment and love, became attached to the private. “Home is where the heart is,” pronounce needlepoint embroideries. Home...

    • 1 Redefining Democracy as Settling Disputes about Care Responsibilities
      (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 Statesman2000; Durant 1995). The care deficit refers to the incapacities in advanced countries to find enough care workers to meet the needs of people, their children, elderly parents and relatives, and infirm family members. The democratic deficit refers to the incapacities of governmental institutions to reflect the real values and ideas of citizens.

      What no one seems to have recognized, however, is that these...

    • 2 Why Personal Responsibility Isn’t Enough for Democracy
      (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 whose account of justice balances how the burdens and joys of caring are equalized so as to leave every citizen with as much freedom as possible. Such a vision requires that citizens see clearly how they care with others, that is, how they think about responsibilities...

    • 3 Tough Guys Don’t Care . . . Do They? Gender, Freedom, and Care
      (pp. 67-94)

      Ludovic, the young boy who is the protagonist in Alain Berliner’s 1997 filmMa 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. Here, boys and young men intensely police the boundaries of being a boy, searching to weed out “ gays” and “fags” or boys who they think are otherwise different either sexually, sartorially, or in terms of academic ambition (Pascoe 2007; Ferguson 2001). Some of the victims of this...

    • 4 Vicious Circles of Privatized Caring: Care, Equality, and Democracy
      (pp. 95-113)

      Nancy Hirschmann’s (2010) essay and the subsequent discussion in theBoston Reviewabout “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? Of course, to put the question this way is already to limit the “mothers” about whom one is speaking. Upper-middle-class women may be able to exercise the “optout” option, but most cannot. Many commentators note the injustice of starting any discussion about mothers’ proper roles if one is discussing onlysomemothers. Hirschmann recognizes this problem, but lays blame for...

    • 5 Can Markets Be Caring? Markets, Care, and Justice
      (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. Using the average salary for care workers, they also calculated the value of unpaid care, which they defined as the primary care and supervision of children, the elderly, and the infirm, as well as education and household work. Their estimate is that adding together paid and unpaid care work, the...

    • 6 Democratic Caring
      (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 carereceiving have their proper place in society. How “we care now” misunderstands freedom as “ choice” regardless of domination, perpetuates inequality, and makes it impossible to raise questions of care as issues of justice. This distortion happens in part because care is so thoroughly “ backgrounded” as a critical part of human life that its role...

    • 7 Caring Democracy
      (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? How do we think about freedom as the absence of domination, about equality as the condition of equal voice, about justice as an ongoing process of assigning and reassigning caring and other responsibilities in a framework of non-dominated inclusion? To do so, we have to re-imagine democratic life as ongoing...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 183-190)
    (pp. 191-214)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 215-227)
    (pp. 228-228)