Care Work

Gender & Society in the Classroom: Care Work

Organized by: Adrienne L. Riegle, PhD Candidate, Iowa State University
Updated by: Seth A. Behrends, University of Illinois – Chicago

This list offers a diverse yet inclusive selection of articles relating to care work published in Gender & Society, between 2000 and 2013. While each uniquely contributes to the growing scholarship on care work, taken together, these articles represent a broad conceptualization of care work in a global context. This literature also illustrates lingering nature of caregiving constructed as women’s work. In order to reduce the number of articles resulting from searching with the terms “care work” on the Gender & Society web page, I have included neither book reviews nor less-relevant articles in this list. The more recent research included draws on previous literature in the study of care work. Instructors are encouraged to peruse the references of these articles for interesting scholarship published in Gender & Society that precedes the most recent decade. Additionally, classes are encouraged to give particular attention to the special issue (vol. 17, issue 2) dedicated to care work in April 2003.

Agarwal, Bina. 2021. “Reflections on the Less Visible and Less Measured: Gender and COVID-19 in India.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 244-255.
The gender effects of COVID-19 are complex, and extend much beyond the issues of care work and domestic violence that have captured global attention. Some effects have been immediate, such as job losses, food shortages, and enhanced domestic work burdens; others will emerge in time, such as the depletion of savings and assets and pandemic-related widowhood, which would make recovery difficult. I use examples from India to outline the complexity of such outcomes, the limitations of the many telephone surveys conducted during the pandemic, and the importance of anticipating both the immediate and the sequential effects.
We can anticipate these effects by drawing on our knowledge of preexisting gender inequalities and people’s coping strategies under crises, as well as real-time media alerts. Prior conceptualization can help us design better surveys for capturing both the visible and less visible impact of the pandemic, as well as formulate more effective policies for mitigating the adverse effects. I also highlight the advantages of group-based approaches for protecting women’s livelihoods during such crises, and emphasize the need to create a synergy between feminist theory, evidence gathering, and policy formulation.

Chung, Heejung, Holly Birkett, Sarah Forbes, and Hyojin Seo. 2021. “Covid-19, Flexible Working, and Implications for Gender Equality in the United Kingdom.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 218-232.
We examine the role flexible working has for gender equality during the pandemic, focusing on arrangements that give workers control over when and where they work. We use a survey of dual-earning working parents in the United Kingdom during the peak of the first lockdown, namely, between mid-May and mid-June 2020. Results show that in most households in our survey, mothers were mainly responsible for housework and child care tasks both before and during the lockdown period, although this proportion has slightly declined during the pandemic. In households where fathers worked from home during the pandemic, respondents were less likely to say that mothers were the ones solely or mostly responsible for housework and child care. Fathers who worked from home were more likely to say that they were doing more housework and child care during the lockdown period than they were before. Finally, we explore what we expect to happen in the postpandemic times in relation to flexible working and gender equality. The large expansion of flexible working we expect to happen may help reduce some of the gender inequalities that have exacerbated during the pandemic, but only if we reflect on and change our existing work cultures and gender norms.

Collins, Caitlyn, Leah Ruppanner, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “The Gendered Consequences of a Weak Infrastructure of Care: School Reopening Plans and Parents’ Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 180-193.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended in-person public education across the United States, a critical infrastructure of care that parents—especially mothers—depend on to work. To understand the nature and magnitude of school closures across states, we collected detailed primary data—the Elementary School Operating Status database (ESOS)—to measure the percentage of school districts offering in-person, remote, and hybrid instruction models for elementary schools by state in September 2020. We link these data to the Current Population Survey to evaluate the association between school reopening and parents’ labor force participation rates, comparing 2020 labor force participation rates to those observed prepandemic in 2019. We find that, across states, the maternal labor force participation rate fell to a greater extent than that of fathers. In 2019, mothers’ rate of labor force participation was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’. By 2020, this gap grew by 5 percentage points in states where schools offered primarily remote instruction. We show that schools are a vital source of care for young children, and that without in-person instruction, mothers have been sidelined from the labor force. The longer these conditions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for mothers to fully recover from prolonged spells of nonemployment, resulting in reduced occupational opportunities and lifetime earnings.

Craig, Lyn, and Brendan Churchill. 2021. “Unpaid Work and Care During COVID-19: Subjective Experiences of Same-Sex Couples and Single Mothers in Australia.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 233-243.
This paper draws on data from Work and Care During COVID-19, an online survey of Australians during pandemic lockdown in May 2020 (n = 2,722). It focuses on how subsamples of lesbian, gay, and bisexual mothers and fathers in couples (n = 280) and single mothers (n = 480) subjectively experienced unpaid work and care during lockdown compared with heterosexual mothers and fathers in couples, and with partnered mothers, respectively. During the pandemic, nonheterosexual fathers’ subjective reports were less negative than those of their heterosexual counterparts, but differences between heterosexual and lesbian/bisexual mothers were more mixed. Unlike their partnered counterparts, more single mothers reported feeling satisfied than before with their balance of paid and unpaid work and how they spent their time overall during the pandemic, perhaps because they avoided partnership conflicts and particularly benefited from relaxed commuting and child care deadlines.

Dunatchik, Allison, Kathleen Gerson, Jennifer Glass, Jerry A. Jacobs, and Haley Stritzel. 2021. “Gender, Parenting, and the Rise of Remote Work During the Pandemic: Implications for Domestic Inequality in the United States.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 194-205.
We examine how the shift to remote work altered responsibilities for domestic labor among partnered couples and single parents. The study draws on data from a nationally representative survey of 2,200 US adults, including 478 partnered parents and 151 single parents, in April 2020. The closing of schools and child care centers significantly increased demands on working parents in the United States, and in many circumstances reinforced an unequal domestic division of labor.

Fuller, Sylvia, and Yue Qian. 2021. “Covid-19 and the Gender Gap in Employment Among Parents of Young Children in Canada.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 206-217.
Economic and social disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have important implications for gender and class inequality. Drawing on Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey, we document trends in gender gaps in employment and work hours over the pandemic (February–October 2020). Our findings highlight the importance of care provisions for gender equity, with gaps larger among parents than people without children, and most pronounced when care and employment were more difficult to reconcile. When employment barriers eased, so did the gender–employment gap. The pandemic could not undo longer-standing cultural and structural shifts motivating contemporary mothers’ employment. The pandemic also exacerbated educational inequalities among women, highlighting the importance of assessing gendered impacts through an intersectional lens.

Lightman, Naomi, and Anthony Kevins. 2021. “‘Women’s Work’: Welfare State Spending and the Gendered and Classed Dimensions of Unpaid Care.” Gender & Society 35 (5): 778-805.
This study is the first to explicitly assess the connections between welfare state spending and the gendered and classed dimensions of unpaid care work across 29 European nations. Our research uses multi-level model analysis of European Quality of Life Survey data, examining childcare and housework burdens for people living with at least one child under the age of 18. Two key findings emerge: First, by disaggregating different types of unpaid care work, we find that childcare provision is more gendered than classed—reflecting trends toward “intensive mothering”. Housework and cooking, on the contrary, demonstrate both gender and class effects, likely because they are more readily outsourced by wealthier individuals to the paid care sector. Second, while overall social expenditure has no effect on hours spent on childcare and housework, results suggest that family policy may shape the relationship between gender, income, and housework (but not childcare). Specifically, family policy expenditure is associated with a considerably smaller gender gap vis-à-vis the time dedicated to housework: This effect is present across the income spectrum, but is particularly substantial in the case of lower income women.

Rao, Aliya Hamid. 2021. “Gendered Interpretations of Job Loss and Subsequent Professional Pathways.” Gender & Society 35 (6): 884–909.
While we know that career interruptions shape men’s and women’s professional trajectories, we know less about how job loss may matter for this process. Drawing on interviews with unemployed, college-educated men and women in professional occupations, I show that while both men and women interpret their job loss as due to impersonal “business” decisions, women additionally attribute their job loss as arising from employers’ “personal” decisions. Men’s job loss shapes their subsequent preferred professional pathways, but never in a way that diminishes the importance of their participation in the labor force. For some women in this study, job loss becomes a moment to reflect on their professional pathways, often pulling them back from paid work. This study identifies job loss as an event that, on top of gendered workplace experiences and caregiving obligations, may curtail some women’s participation in paid work.

Ruppanner, Leah, Caitlyn Collins, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “How Do Gender Norms and Childcare Costs Affect Maternal Employment Across US States?” Gender & Society 35 (6): 910–939.
In this article, we investigate how state-to-state differences in U.S. childcare costs and gender norms are associated with maternal employment. Although an abundance of research has examined factors that influence mothers’ employment, few studies explore the interrelationship between maternal employment and culture, policy, and individual resources across U.S. states. Using a representative sample of women in the 2017 American Community Survey along with state-level measures of childcare costs and gender norms, we examine the relationship between these state conditions and mothers’ probability of employment. We pay careful attention to differences in mothers’ level of education. Our results suggest that expensive childcare is associated with lower maternal employment, particularly for those with less education. For the college educated, expensive childcare is negatively associated with maternal employment in states with traditional gender norms that uphold mothers as primary caregivers. Among mothers with lower levels of education, gender norms have a limited association with employment. These findings suggest that highly educated mothers mobilize resources to remain in the labor force when paid work is supported by local gender norms. For less-educated mothers, expensive childcare predicts lower employment regardless of gender norms, indicating that structural constraints outweigh normative expectations among those with fewer resources.

Yaish, Meir, Hadas Mandel, and Tali Kristal. 2021. “Has the Economic Lockdown Following the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed the Gender Division of Labor in Israel?” Gender & Society 35 (2): 256-270.
The economic shutdown and national lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 have increased demand for unpaid work at home, particularly among families with children, and reduced demand for paid work. Concurrently, the share of the workforce that has relocated its workplace to home has also increased. In this article, we examine the consequences of these processes for the allocation of time among paid work, housework, and care work for men and women in Israel. Using data on 2,027 Israeli adults whom we followed since the first week of March (before the spread of COVID-19), we focus on the effect of the second lockdown in Israel (in September) on the gender division of both paid and unpaid work. We find that as demand for housework caused by the lockdown increases, women—especially with children—increase their housework much more than men do, particularly when they work from home. The consequences of work from home and other flexible work arrangements for gender inequality within the family are discussed.

Hirsh, C. Elizabeth, Christina Treleaven, and Sylvia Fuller. 2020. “Caregivers, Gender, and the Law: An Analysis of Family Responsibility Discrimination Case Outcomes.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 760-789.
As workers struggle to combine work and family responsibilities, discrimination against workers based on their status as caregivers is on the rise. Although both women and men feel the pinch, caregiver discrimination is particularly damaging for women, because care is intricately tied to gendered norms and expectations. In this article, we analyze caregiver discrimination cases resolved by Canadian Human Rights Tribunals from 1985 through 2016, to explore how work and caregiving clash. We identify issues involved in disputes and the ways gendered expectations about work–life facilitation inform disputes and outcomes. We find that although women are more likely to bring claims and obtain favorable outcomes, the legal interpretation of claims is highly gendered. Women bring claims involving both their presumed status as caregivers and the practical challenges of seeking accommodations for care, whereas men’s claims are largely accommodation based. In adjudicating cases, Tribunals are more likely to see women than men as lacking credibility when making their claims, questioning their competence and legitimacy. In contrast, men struggle to demonstrate the legal basis of work–family interference, failing to convey how seriously work interferes with family responsibilities.

Torres, Jennifer M. C. 2015. “Expertise and Sliding Scales: Lactation Consultants, Doulas, and the Relational Work of Breastfeeding and Labor Support.” Gender & Society 29 (2): 244-264.
The combination of money and intimacy, particularly in the context of paid caring, can be difficult, given the tendency to view them as belonging to separate spheres. This research studied paid caring within the context of breastfeeding and labor support, using 72 interviews with lactation consultants, doulas, clients, and health care professionals, as well as 150 hours of ethnographic observation. Building upon the work of Viviana Zelizer, I examined the relational work of lactation consultants, doulas, and their clients, finding that this process is highly influenced by the way gender is mapped onto the separate spheres dichotomy. Lactation consultants, doulas, and their clients drew boundaries around their social relations to construct them as different from family care in order to legitimate the combination of money and intimacy. Lactation consultants and doulas both experienced tension in determining appropriate transactions and media for their care work, which illustrates how the separate spheres ideology can perpetuate the relative low pay of care work.   

Avril, Christelle, and Marie Cartier. 2014. “Subordination in Home Service Jobs Comparing Providers of Home-Based Child Care, Elder Care, and Cleaning in France.” Gender & Society 28 (4): 609-630.
Home-based service jobs have developed considerably across Western societies. In fact, chances are high that a working-class woman in France today will, at some point in her life, be a house cleaner, home-based child care provider, or home aide for the elderly. Going against political, scholarly, and everyday discourses that, saturated with the double prejudices of gender and class, treat all these home service occupations, which require little prior training, the same, this article illuminates the variability of the forms of subordination experienced by women practicing these occupations in France. Comparing these jobs with the ensemble of low-skill jobs and with each other exposes what is specific to the particular form of subordination each job type entails, in terms of the extent of job supervision and the nature of the home where it is practiced, the presence or absence of relations with coworkers and/or a “public,” and the nature of this “public.” It mobilizes nationwide statistical data in a new way to shift attention to these numerous ordinary work situations, which are much less studied than those of the domestic workers of the wealthiest cities of the Western world.

Conlon, Catherine, Virpi Timonen, Gemma Carney, and Thomas Scharf. 2014. “Women (Re)Negotiating Care Across Family Generations: Intersections of Gender and Socioeconomic Status.” Gender & Society 28 (5): 729-751.
Changing Generations, a study of intergenerational relations in Ireland undertaken between 2011 and 2013 by the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (SPARC), Trinity College, Dublin, and the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG), NUI Galway, used the Constructivist Grounded Theory method to interrogate support and care provision between generations. This article draws on interviews with 52 women ages 18 to 102, allowing for simultaneous analysis of older and younger women’s perspectives. The intersectionality of gender and class emerged as central to the analysis. Socioeconomic positions shape contrasting forms of interdependency among family generations, ranging from “enmeshed” lives among lower socioeconomic groups to “freed” lives among higher socioeconomic groups. Women are initiating changes in how care and support flow across generations. Older women in higher socioeconomic groups are attuned to how emotional capital women expend across family generations can constrain (young) women’s lives. In an expression of solidarity, older women are renegotiating the place of care labor in their own lives and in the lives of younger women. A new reciprocity emerges that amounts to women “undoing gender.” This process is, however, deeply classed as it is women in higher socioeconomic groups whose resources best place them to renegotiate care. 

Ashwin, Sarah, Irina Tartakovskaya, Marina Ilyina, and Tatyana Lytkina. 2013. “Gendering Reciprocity: Solving a Puzzle of Nonreciprocation.” Gender & Society 27 (3): 396-421.
Theories of reciprocity have been surprisingly gender-blind. We develop a gendered account of reciprocity using qualitative data from Russia. We focus on gifts of unpaid task assistance, where gender differences are particularly visible. In our data, women’s gifts of labor involve greater time and effort than men’s, but women report nonreciprocation, while men do not. Paradoxically, the most onerous gifts are those least likely to be reciprocated. We show how this puzzling finding relates to the gendering of reciprocity. We define four stages of the gift cycle–giving, (non)recognition, (non)reciprocation, and givers’ responses to (non)reciprocation–detailing how each is gendered. We argue that reciprocity is a socially embedded phenomenon that cannot be considered in isolation from gender norms. This insight has implications for research employing reciprocity as a framework, and for debates in relation to issues such as care work and family relations.

Casanova, Erynn Masi De. 2013. “Embodied Inequality: The Experience of Domestic Work in Urban Ecuador.” Gender & Society 27 (4): 561-585.
Research on bodies and work relies on theoretical perspectives that see the working body as a resource and/or symbol. This study bridges these complementary theories, incorporating two concepts (occupational habitus and body work) that extend and synthesize them into a more holistic model of embodied inequality. Drawing primarily on the accounts of women domestic workers in Ecuador’s largest city, I explore the embodied dimensions of domestic work and show how unequal relations between workers and employers manifest in and on bodies, specifically through interactions around health, food, and appearance/clothing. I argue that paid domestic workers’ bodies are simultaneously resources that can be used (up) for work, and symbols interpreted according to local hierarchies of gender and class.

Peng, Yinni, and Odalia M. H. Wong. 2013. “Diversified Transnational Mothering Via Telecommunication: Intensive, Collaborative, and Passive.” Gender & Society 27 (4): 491-513.
Recent research argues that the use of information and communication technology (ICT) has created a new channel through which transnational mothers can fulfill their maternal duties from afar. However, the literature pays little attention to the diversity of mothering practices via telecommunication. To fill this gap, our qualitative research on Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong elaborates on the complexity and diversity of transnational mothering via mobile communication by demonstrating three patterns for the performance of maternal duties: intensive, collaborative, and passive mothering. We argue that transnational mothering via telecommunication is shaped by the intersection of mothers’ agency, children’s responses, and substitute caregivers’ role in child care.

Wang, Leslie K. 2013. “Unequal Logics of Care: Gender, Globalization, and Volunteer Work of Expatriate Wives in China.” Gender & Society 27 (4): 538-560.
Previous research has examined growing globalized divisions in domestic labor through the perspective of poor migrant women who perform care work in advanced industrialized societies. This article explores this global trend in reverse, focusing on first-world women who migrate into developing countries and engage with local dynamics of care through volunteer work. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork with Helping Hands, an organization of expatriate wives that assisted a local state-run orphanage in Beijing, China, I argue that gendered processes of privileged migration caused women to develop a “logic of care” that equated good care solely with maternal nurturance and emotional connection. This logic permeated their volunteer efforts, causing conflicts with Chinese state caregivers who prioritized the performance of reproductive tasks. This case demonstrates the socially constructed nature of logics that underlie care practices and their relationship to increasingly transnational configurations of privilege and inequality. When applied to first-world women’s charitable activities in developing countries, unquestioned gendered logics can reinforce larger global disparities of power through the stratified provision of care.

Hoang, Lan Anh, and Brenda S. A. Yeoh 2011. “Breadwinning Wives and “Left-Behind” Husbands: Men and Masculinities in the Vietnamese Transnational Family.” Gender & Society 25 (6): 717-739.
This article explores an aspect of women’s transnational labor migration that has been understudied in many labor-sending countries: how men experience shifts in the household labor division triggered by women’s migration. In so doing, we shed light on the diverse ways notions of masculinity and gender identities are being reworked and renegotiated in the transnational family. Drawing on qualitative data collected from in-depth interviews with carers of left-behind children in Northern Vietnam, we show how men are confronted with the need to take on child care duties, which have traditionally been ascribed to women, while at the same time being under considerable pressure to live up to locally accepted masculinity ideals. We provide interesting insights into the changing family structures and dynamics in Vietnamese society where patriarchal norms continue to exert significant influence on different facets of life.

Utrata, Jennifer. 2011. “Youth Privilege: Doing Age and Gender in Russia’s Single-Mother Families.” Gender & Society 25 (5): 616-641.
Relative to gender, race, and class, age relations are undertheorized. Yet age, like gender, is routinely accomplished in daily life. Grandmothers and adult daughters simultaneously do age and gender as they support one another in managing paid work and domestic responsibilities. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with 90 single mothers and 30 grandmothers (babushki) in Russia, I explore intergenerational negotiations for support. Both single mothers and grandmothers are held accountable for doing gendered age, but labor and marriage markets tip the balance in favor of single mothers. Single mothers re-create youth privilege, finding their lives simpler with a babushka. Some grandmothers embrace newer discourses of femininity, challenging assumptions about age and family status that oblige them to perform care work. But most grandmothers do whatever they can to help daughters, feeling more dependent than ever on them because of the uncertainties of capitalism and the state’s retrenchment. I contribute to theories of age and gender intersectionality by making visible both single mothers’ youth privilege and grandmothers’ unpaid, often devalued, care work.

Schultz Lee, Kristen. 2010. “Gender, Care work, and the Complexity of Family Membership in Japan.” Gender & Society 24 (5): 647-671.
This research investigates sociological ambivalence in negotiating care work in Japanese families. Women and their aging parents experience ambivalence based on conflicting norms of filial obligation, gender ideology, and cultural beliefs about the parent–child bond. Analysis of in-depth interview data showed ambivalence was based on (1) conflict between norms and cultural beliefs and (2) intergenerational differences in norms of caregiving. Not only are norms of care work in Japan gendered, but they also create conflicting demands for women who are torn among providing care for their parents, providing care for their in-laws, and changing expectations for women in contemporary Japan. In the families studied, norms of filial obligation were challenged, but gendered definitions of care work were left largely intact. These findings challenge theories of elder care that identify a hierarchy of preferred caregivers based on filial obligation and gender.

Scott, Ellen K. 2010. “‘I Feel as if I Am the One Who Is Disabled’: The Emotional Impact of Changed Employment Trajectories of Mothers Caring for Children with Disabilities.” Gender & Society 24 (5): 672-696.
Despite the 1970s middle-class feminist dream that women could have it all–families characterized by equitable distributions of household labor and interesting careers–the decades since have told a different story. In the U.S. context of a neoliberal labor market and privatized systems of family care, mothers still struggle to negotiate the conflicting demands of family and employment, particularly when caring for children with disabilities. Though an extensive literature examines labor market participation for mothers of children with disabilities, few scholars have examined the emotional impact of their altered career plans. Drawing from a sample of 40 single- and two-parent families, the author examines mothers’ accounts of care for children with disabilities, focusing on their emotional experiences of their changed employment trajectories.

Duffy, Mignon. 2005. “Reproducing Labor Inequalities: Challenges for Feminists Conceptualizing Care at the Intersections of Gender, Race, and Class.” Gender & Society 19 (1): 66-82.
The author uses census data to assess the consequences of two alternative theoretical formulations of care work for understanding the intersections of gender, race, and economic inequalities in paid care. The nurturance conceptualization focuses on care as relationship while the reproductive labor framework includes both relational and nonrelational jobs that maintain and reproduce the labor force. An empirical application of both models to the labor market shows that placing increasing theoretical emphasis on nurturant care privileges the experiences of white women and excludes large numbers of very-low-wage workers from consideration.

Swartz, Teresa Toguchi. 2004. “Mothering for the State: Foster Parenting and the Challenges of Government-Contracted Carework.” Gender & Society 18 (5): 567-587.
This article draws on ethnographic research with a nonprofit foster family agency to examine how payment affects caregivers’ motivations and performance, as well as how state bureaucratic organization and professional supervision affect their carework. Findings suggest that contrary to conventional thought, economic interests and altruistic motives coexist for foster mothers. Although monetary compensation is a concern for these mostly working-class women, impetus for caring also stems from traditional gendered ideals of mothering, nurturing, and staying at home with their biological children. However, state regulations and rules (designed to protect children) intervene in foster mothers’ parenting and private lives and undermine their intrinsic motivations and rewards. The conclusion reflects on what this case reveals about the challenges of paid carework, especially under conditions of government supervision and regulation.

Aranda, Elizabeth M. 2003. “Global Care Work and Gendered Constraints: The Case of Puerto Rican Transmigrants.” Gender & Society 17 (4): 609-626.
Through in-depth interviews with 41 middle-class Puerto Rican transmigrants, this research examines how gender constrains global care work. Migration compromises embeddedness in care networks, concurrently heightening its meaning. Women felt these effects more acutely than men given their primary responsibility for reproductive work. Migrants engaged in emotion work to cope with constraints, strategically rearticulating care work; yet unsuccessful strategies resulted in further emotional dislocation, particularly for women. Migration led to a dichotomy in which professional success was pitted against emotional fulfillment through care work. Gender, cultural, and geopolitical factors mediated this split, contributing to a permanently unsettled flow of migrants.

Herd, Pamela, and Madonna Harrington Meyer. 2002. “Care Work: Invisible Civic Engagement.” Gender & Society 16 (5): 665-688.
Scholars who debate the cause of and solutions for the decline in civic engagement have suggested that Americans have increasingly withdrawn from community organizations, reducing their political activity such as voting and interest in the political world, and generally failing to place the common good over individual self-interest. Their analyses are steeped in a tradition that is largely gender blind and consequently ignores care work. We infuse feminist analyses of paid labor and citizenship, which emphasize the merits and burdens of care work, into the civic engagement debate. We argue that care work, predominantly performed by women, paradoxically limits, enhances, and even constitutes a vital form of civic activity. We call for a fuller slate of social policies that will both redistribute the burden of care work and reinvigorate civic engagement.

Gerstel, Naomi and Sally K. Gallagher. 2001. “Men’s Caregiving: Gender and the Contingent Character of Care.” Gender & Society 15 (2): 197-217.
This article extends recent scholarship on masculinity by analyzing the effects of social structure, social relations, and gendered caregiving ideology on the care men give to kin and friends. To be sure, men spend significantly less time giving care than do women. However, much variation is contingent on the women in men’s lives: It is primarily the characteristics of men’s families (including wives’ caregiving; the presence of young children, especially daughters; and the availability of siblings, especially sisters) more than employment or gendered caregiving ideology that shape the amount and kind of caregiving men provide. Our findings suggest that although men’s caregiving is variable and socially patterned, it is contingent on women: Wives and daughters pull men into caregiving, while adult sisters substitute for them.

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