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Who Cares? Why We Need a New Social Contract

When Mar 19, 2007
from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library
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NANCY FOLBRE

 

Professor of Economics, UMass, Amherst

Nancy Folbre is Professor of Economics at UMass Amherst. Her research focuses on the interconnections between feminist theory and political economy, with a particular interest in caring labor and other forms of non-market work. Her most recent book, Family Time: The Social Organization of Care, a collection of articles on time-use, was co-edited with Michael Bittman and published by Routledge in 2004. Other books include The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values, (New York: The New Press, 2001) and Who Pays for the Kids? Gender and the Structures of Constraint, (Routledge, 1994). In 1998, Folbre was the recipient of a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and began co-chairing the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on the Family and the Economy. She is also a staff economist at the Center for Popular Economics and an Associate Editor of the journal Feminist Economics. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Texas, and earned a Ph.D. in economics from UMass Amherst in 1979. She has been a member of the University's faculty since 1981.Professor Folbre is currently completing two projects examining expenditures on children and the care sector of the U.S. economy.

Who Cares? Why We Need a New Social Contract

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A market-based economy rewards work that produces goods and services for sale. Individuals who devote time and energy to the care of family, friends and community pay an increasingly high price for such commitments. Patriarchal systems solved this problem by restricting women’s choices, forcing them to overspecialize in the provision of family care. Capitalist systems have weakened patriarchal strictures, but have done little to solve the resulting declines in the supply of caring labor. The growth of individualism has destabilized families and communities. How do increased commodification and globalization affect the quantity and quality of effort devoted to care? Can we design social institutions that will reward and reinforce caring commitments?