Creating New Norms of Work and Care

Friday, October 24, 2014 13:00to14:30
Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

An Annie Macdonald Langstaff workshop with Jennifer Nedelsky, Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Toronto.


My project addresses three serious problems that afflict, in various forms, virtually all modern industrial societies:

  1. There is an unsustainable structure of work and family life that puts enormous stress on families, and forces workers (at all levels) into untenable choices between work and family
  2. The shift in gender norms and the inequality of women improves at a glacial pace, leaving women with less pay, less economic security, vulnerability to poverty, less leisure time, less access to top jobs and to other advantages such as high quality health care. More generally, equality for all cannot be achieved without a just distribution of care work.
  3. The policy / care divide means that those in top policy making positions are almost always people with very little experience of the demands (or satisfactions or importance) of care taking. In my view this means that policy-makers are, for the most part, ignorant of a core dimension of human life. This renders them unfit for the job. Those who do have the requisite knowledge and experience (primarily women) have very limited access to high-level policy-making positions.

My argument is that these problems can only be redressed by a radical restructuring of work and care practices. I argue that we need a fundamental shift in social norms, so that the expectation of ALL is that we will work part-time and engage in care work for family, friends and community part time. This paper is an exploration of what such an optimal norm would look like.

Part of the Annie Macdonald Langstaff Workshop Series, organized in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, and the Feminist Collective.

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