Women’s Work and the Limits of Capitalism: Nancy Folbre Speaks at The New School
Monday, December 13, 2010 at 6:00 PM (EST)
New York, NY
“Women’s Work and the Limits of Capitalism: A Feminist Analysis of the Current Crisis”
Nancy Folbre, economist and contributor to the New York Times “Economix” Blog, will join The New School to present SCEPA's annual Robert Heilbroner Memorial Lecture on the Future of Capitalism. Folbre is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, and associate editor of the journal Feminist Economics. Her work focuses on the interface between feminist theory and political economy, with a particular interest in caring labor and other forms of non-market work.
Women now represent almost half of all workers on non-agricultural payrolls, concentrated in paid care industries such as health, education, and social services. Even full-time women wage earners devote significant amounts of time to unpaid care work in their households and communities.
Women's specialization in both paid and unpaid care stabilizes and subsidizes the market economy even as it reproduces gender inequality. Recent efforts to measure and assign a value to care work suggest that economists have fundamentally misinterpreted trends in both the level and the distribution of economic well-being, overstating economic growth and understating trends toward increased inequality.
A feminist analysis of care work has important implications for understanding both conservative attacks on the "nanny state" and the global unemployment crisis. The growing need for public provision of care services outside the home, combined with the difficulty of outsourcing these services to low-wage countries, means that "women's jobs" are growing in relative importance within the U.S. economy.
Women and men have much to gain from public investments that could increase both the quantity and the quality of these jobs.