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Carework

  • By: Caroline Gatrell
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The term carework (specifically, here, maternal carework) refers to the physical and emotional labor invested by mothers in caring for and nurturing dependent children. In the labor market, carework refers to services delivered in a market-based economy, as opposed to care giving, which is generally provided without expectation of payment. The same type of work (e.g., caring for a child) may receive either label: the point is that carework recognizes that it is actual work, which costs the provider in terms of time and effort. The question of whether mothers should be primarily responsible for carework, especially during children's infant years, has been a focus of feminist scholarship for over 100 years. Even today, motherhood and the issue of maternal carework remains a site of ...

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