This lecture series sponsored by the UO Labor Education & Research Center presents Yi Yu, a University of Oregon PhD candidate in the Department of Geography. She will speak on "A 'Prison of Love': Exploitation and the Promotion of 'Care Ethics' for Female Care Workers in China."
Recently, feminist geographers have been calling for research that contributes to a more ethical geography of care that is responsible to society. However, after thoroughly examining the care ethics of attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness, this study shows that adhering to these ethics in caring relations actually exploits caregivers, instead of contributing to a more just society. Based on empirical research in Shanghai and Beijing, this study examines the nature of caregivers’ work and provides three significant insights: (1) care ethics embedded in job requirements demand that caregivers conduct not only bodily and “dirty” work, but also emotional work; (2) the involvement of care ethics in care work establishes different social relations between caregivers and care-recipients, which produces a different subjectivity that blurs the boundary between life and work; and (3) the new subjectivity formed when operating under care ethics, caregivers tend to be put in a “prison of love”, in which being ethical means being willing to work long hours for low wages. By theorizing the ethics of care work from the three aspects indicated above, this study challenges the geography of care agenda that seeks to promote the care ethics of attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness.
More information is available at the Labor Education & Research Center's website.