Academic journal article Labour/Le Travail

Rianne Mahon and Fiona Robinson, Eds., Feminist Ethics and Social Policy. towards a New Global Political Economy of Care

Academic journal article Labour/Le Travail

Rianne Mahon and Fiona Robinson, Eds., Feminist Ethics and Social Policy. towards a New Global Political Economy of Care

Article excerpt

Rianne Mahon and Fiona Robinson, eds., Feminist Ethics and Social Policy. Towards a New Global Political Economy of Care (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press 2011)

CARE HAS EMERGED as a key concept in feminist research and policy analysis across a number of fields such as social policy, geography, international relations, philosophy, and migration studies. However, bridging the gap between different approaches is, as the editors of this volume comment, challenging. Unlike an earlier attempt by Patrice DiQuinzio and Iris Marion Young, in "Introduction: Special Issue on Feminist Ethics and Social Policy," [Hypatia, 10 (1995): 1-7], to examine social policy through the lens of feminist ethics of care, the editors add the dimension of the transnationalization of care and the migration of care workers. In doing this they also seek to break down some of the dichotomies which continue to shape our thinking in this area, for example private/public, dependency/autonomy, and national/global.

The first section analyzes the transnational movement of care, largely focusing on the migration of care workers at different skill levels. Williams outlines three levels (micro, meso, macro) and five dimensions (movement of care labour; dynamics of commitment; movement of care capital; influence of care discourses and practices; development of social movements and NGOS) in her analysis of the development of a transnational political economy of care. While Williams largely focuses on home-based workers, Gabriel turns to the global migration of nurses who, though skilled, face a disjuncture between their priority status in immigration legislation and their access to the profession. Onuki's chapter on Japan also brings out the gap between the entry of Filipino care workers covered under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement and their ability to stay in the country after a long period of training.

The second section examines the transnational influences on care policies through an examination of the different discourses of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank (Mahon) and the policy transfer and learning that took place in the expansion of care provision in East Asian states, such as South Korea (Peng). Tsuji argues that in Japan very rapid changes in child and elder care policies have led to the transformation of generational and intimate relationships in the process.

The third section focuses on the transnational ethics of care and seeks to extend its application in a number of directions. Robinson suggests that the ethics of care can help us to uncover and understand the moral dilemma underpinning the emancipation of receivers of care at the expense of the exploitation of givers in the global distribution of intimate services. She also counsels that we need to examine the role of hegemonic masculinity in legitimizing and sustaining feminization of care work. For her, sex workers too are to be included amongst those whose labour is devalued in the global economy. Hakivsky follows Robinson in including sex work in her framework of care ethics but goes beyond the demand side and looks at how ethics can deepen our understanding of the root causes of migration and transnational sex trafficking and female responses to "care deficits" in the country of origin, in particular the Ukraine. In a rich chapter, to which it is difficult to do justice in a short review, Tronto asks whether a feminist democratic ethics of care can tell us anything special about global political economy She argues in contrast to Hochschild that transnational care is not an issue of distribution but is about relationships and democratic procedures in states recognizing its transnational effects. Quite controversially, she concludes that not only should care workers be treated the same as other migrants in relation to citizenship but that nations should "extend citizenship to all those who are involved in substantive relations of care and by virtue of her/his care relationship with those who are engaged in caring relationships with citizens. …

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