Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care

Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care

Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care

Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care

Synopsis

What do home health aides, call center operators, prostitutes, sperm donors, nail manicurists, and housecleaners have in common? Around the world, they make their livings through touch, closeness, and personal care. Their labors, both paid and unpaid, sustain the day-to-day work that we require to survive. This book takes a close look at carework, domestic work, and sex work in everyday life and illuminates the juncture where money and intimacy meet.

Intimate labor is presented as a comprehensive category of investigation into gender, race, class, and other power relations in the context of global economic transformations. In chronicling the history of intimate labor in light of the rise and devolution of welfare states, women's workforce participation, family formation, the expansion of sex work into new industries, and the development of institutions for dependent people, this wide-ranging reader advances debates over the relationship between care and economy.

Excerpt

One of the most striking features of contemporary global capitalism is the heightened commodification of intimacy that pervades social life. We not only seek to buy love, but also express devotion through goods and depend on services to fulfill obligations or display closeness to others. So did nineteenthcentury Victorians in Britain, the United States, and throughout the British Empire. Our historical moment is distinguished by both the intensification of commodification and the subsequent crowding out of indigenous and alternative ways of being. But the monetization of daily life and the privatization of public goods still generate resistance in the broadest sense. People seek solace and joy on their own terms and develop collective challenges to their understanding of the good life.

Against the colonization of the intimate, this volume focuses on the proliferation of labors, both paid and unpaid, that sustains the day-to-day work that individuals and societies require to survive—and flourish. It moves us through the expanding service economy into the crevices of what appears as most private and thus most hidden, even if such locations reflect cultural definitions of the shameful or personal. It reveals acts of love and work for money to be interconnected. That is, the essays in this collection examine the social construction of commodified intimacies, or, more precisely, the intersections of money and intimacy in everyday life, by looking at the ways that intimacy as a material, affective, psychological, and embodied state characterizes such labors. Intimacy occurs in a social context; it is accordingly shaped by, even as it shapes, relations of race, class, gender, and sexuality. And the work of intimacy constitutes intimate labors.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.