Inderscience Publishers

The care paradox: devaluing and idealising care, the mother, and mother nature

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Care work, such as that carried out by 'angelic' nurses, mothers, and other carers, is treated in a dualistic fashion: it is both idealised and poorly valued. The puzzling phenomenon before us is something of a paradox. The objective of this paper is to explain this hitherto unaddressed phenomenon. The explanation provided for the apparent contradictions draws on particular mechanisms inherent in the patriarchal system under which this paradoxical phenomenon occurs. Though the paper centres on care, nature is also both widely idealised and taken for granted. Thus, what is true of 'care' in our analysis is in more than one way also a story about 'nature'.

Keywords: care, labour, economics, idealisation, devaluation, patriarchy, gender, environment, carers, nature

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