Cultures of carework, carework across cultures

Authored by: Pei-Chia Lan

Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415474450
eBook ISBN: 9780203891377
Adobe ISBN: 9781134026159


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Carework refers to the work of caring for others, including unpaid care for family members and friends, as well as paid care for wards and clients. As a form of reproductive labor, carework is necessary to the maintenance of individuals, families, and communities. It includes emotional and nursing care for children, elders, the sick, and the disabled, as well as domestic work such as cooking and cleaning (Misra 2007). By deploying the term “carework,” scholars and advocates emphasize that care is hard work—physically and emotionally—whose value is nevertheless overrated and underpaid. Viewed in this way, care is no longer an expression of women’s natural feelings or endowments, but concrete labor performed in society.

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