When I went to sleep last night I meant to write about ethics this morning. I woke up early and turned on the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s “All in a Weekend” on CBC Radio with Sonali Karnick to hear her interviewing Judy Rebick about how women economists in Canada and around the world are transforming economics to focus more on social impact and an economy of care, as opposed to growth for its own sake.

Judy Rebick: Women Economists Changing Economics | All in a Weekend with Sonali Karnick | Live Radio

Ms. Rebick suggested viewing Mariana Mazzucato’s 2019 TED talk “What is economic value, and who creates it?” Ms Mazzucato points out that we’ve lost our way on the questions about what are the differences between value creation and value extraction, productive and unproductive activities.

She suggests we recognize the state as a positive economic force & questions the financialization of the economy. COVID has highlighted who the essential workers really are: healthcare, child & elder care workers (paid and unpaid), and food producers, transporters, and distributors.

Ms. Rebick then talks about Marjorie Griffin Cohen and other feminists and their theorizing a Care Economy. In their Rabble.ca article, “It’s 2021 and it’s time to care about care”, Mses. Cohen and Armstrong state “the conditions of work are the conditions of care” and recognize “the care infrastructure is the biggest employer in the [Canadian] economy, with the industrial sectors of health, social assistance and education accounting for at least 21 per cent of the total paid labour force” and that it “accounts for at least 12 per cent of the GDP, contributing more to the total income of the economy than sectors such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and finance.” They conclude that the Canadian government should provide universal care coverage so secure that it will become considered a right for residents of Canada. 

They then provide a link to “The Care Economy” statement by the Care Economy Initiative Team: Pat Armstrong, Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Laurell Ritchie, Leah F. Vosko, and Armine Yalnizyan.

It states:  “Future budgets and public policies of all governments must address these core principles:

  1. Care, both paid and unpaid, is a fundamental component of our basic infrastructure. Paid care in health and education alone is a key engine of the economy, generating at least 12% of GDP and 21% of jobs. A well-functioning care economy is key to the functioning of all the other parts of the economy.
  1. A care economy includes those who need and those who provide care, both paid and unpaid, and recognizes that our care needs and care provision vary throughout life.
  2. Care is skilled work that requires ongoing skills development, appropriate compensation, and adequate supports. The conditions of work are the conditions of care.
  3. A care economy includes the entire range of health and education services, including child and elder care. It also includes other social infrastructure such as employment insurance, labour standards and their enforcement, immigration policies, and paid sick leave.
  4. A care economy requires public investment in public services to ensure equitable access to quality care. Public spending on social infrastructure is as critically important as building and maintaining our physical infrastructure.
  5. A care economy promotes inclusion when its design is rooted in a feminist, intersectional, anti-colonial, and anti-racist approach. (emphasis in original)”

The statement concludes “For the past year, our governments emphasized that we are all in this together. We would add that to get out of this together we must care for each other. We need federal leadership to carry these hard-earned pandemic lessons into a recovery by investing in a care economy that supports both those who need and those who provide care.”

I’ve been made aware of teaching and learning with care in higher education by the work of Drs. Mia Zamora, Maha Bali, and Lee Skallerup Bessette. Last summer I joined Drs. Zamora and Bali in their Digital Pedagogy Lab course “A Critical Digital Pedagogy Buffet” where we covered Community Building, Critical Open Pedagogy, Decolonial & Antiracist Pedagogy, and Ethical Ed Tech.

Placing the duty of care in education under the umbrella of an economy of care ties the concerns of the academy, workers and the public together. Creating an economy of care will require a restructuring of the economy to serve the needs of the many rather than the needs of the financial (1%) class. I’m looking forward to exploring these topics in the cMOOC “Ethics, Analytics and the Duty of Care.” Finding the political will to enact an economy of care is the larger project.