Caregiving is indispensable to society. Without it, “the economy” as it is typically conceived, would cease to exist. The labor of health care workers, hospice aids, and day care and childcare workers, has allowed more of us to stay alive this past year and go to work.
Fraser isn’t the first to recognize this tendency. By demanding “wages for housework,” socialist feminists in the 1970s sought not only pay for their labor in the home, but to call attention to the fact that the entire capitalist economy was free-riding on the backs of homemakers, the vast majority of whom were women. If, as was often suggested, the economy could not afford to pay for housework, the demand for wages doubled as a demand for a new kind of economy that either valued care work or abolished its necessity. As Kathi Weeks argued, “it was a reformist project with revolutionary aspirations.”
Good, if introductory, piece tying together a couple of different ways that care work is dismissed and undervalued.