Arlie Russell Hochschild,
"Love and Gold"
(page 6 of 6)
A more basic solution, of course, is to raise the value of caring
work itself, so that whoever does it gets more rewards for it. Care, in
this case, would no longer be such a 'pass-on' job. And now here's the
rub: the value of the labour of raising a child—always low relative to
the value of other kinds of labour—has, under the impact of
globalization, sunk lower still. Children matter to their parents
immeasurably, of course, but the labour of raising them does not earn
much credit in the eyes of the world. When middle-class housewives
raised children as an unpaid, full-time role, the work was dignified by
its aura of middle-classness. That was the one upside to the otherwise
confining cult of middle-class, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century
American womanhood. But when the unpaid work of raising a child became
the paid work of child-care workers, its low market value revealed the
abidingly low value of caring work generally—and further lowered it.
The low value placed on caring work results neither from an absence
of a need for it nor from the simplicity or ease of doing it. Rather,
the declining value of childcare results from a cultural politics of
inequality. It can be compared with the declining value of basic food
crops relative to manufactured goods on the international market. Though
clearly more necessary to life, crops such as wheat and rice fetch low
and declining prices, while manufactured goods are more highly valued.
Just as the market price of primary produce keeps the Third World low in
the community of nations, so the low market value of care keeps the
status of the women who do it—and, ultimately, all women—low.
One excellent way to raise the value of care is to involve fathers in
it. If men shared the care of family members worldwide, care would
spread laterally instead of being passed down a social class ladder. In
Norway, for example, all employed men are eligible for a year's
paternity leave at 90 per cent pay. Some 80 per cent of Norwegian men
now take over a month of parental leave. In this way, Norway is a model
to the world. For indeed it is men who have for the most part stepped
aside from caring work, and it is with them that the 'care drain' truly
In all developed societies, women work at paid jobs. According to the
International Labour Organization, half of the world's women between
ages 15 and 64 do paid work. Between 1960 and 1980, 69 out of 88
countries surveyed showed a growing proportion of women in paid work.
Since 1950, the rate of increase has skyrocketed in the United States,
while remaining high in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom and moderate
in France and Germany. If we want developed societies with women
doctors, political leaders, teachers, bus drivers, and computer
programmers, we will need qualified people to give loving care to their
children. And there is no reason why every society should not enjoy such
loving paid childcare. It may even be true that Vicky Diaz is the person
to provide it—so long as her own children come with her or otherwise
receive all the care they need. In the end, we need to look to Article 9
of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which
notes that a child 'should grow up in a family environment, in an
atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding', and 'not be separated
from his or her parents against their will.' Article 9 sets out an
important goal for the world order, for the United States, and for
feminism. It says we need to value care as our most precious resource,
to notice where it comes from and to care where it ends up. For, these
days, the personal is global.
In 1997, I lived for six months in Trivandrum, in the state of
Kerala, India, as a Fulbright Scholar, a state in which many men and
women worked abroad, especially in the Arabian Gulf. But it was not
until I read Parreñas' dissertation on careworkers that I was
moved to reflect on love as a form of gold, interview Philippina and
Thai nannies living in Redwood City and San Jose, California and reflect
on this form of psychological colonialism. I was also very moved by the
film When Mother Comes Home for Christmas, directed by Nilita
Vachani. On the whole, until very recently there has been little focus
on a 'care drain', even among academics who focus on gender issues. Much
writing on globalization focuses on money, markets and male labour. Much
research on women and development, on the other hand, has focused on the
impact of 'structural adjustments' (World Bank loan requirements that
call for austerity measures) and deprivation. Meanwhile, most research
on working women in the United States and Europe focuses on the picture
of a detached, two-person balancing act or the lone 'supermom', omitting
child-care workers from the picture. Fortunately, in recent years,
scholars such as Evelyn Nakano Glenn (1986, 1991, 1994), Janet Henshall
Momsen (1999), Mary Romero (1992, 1997), Grace Chang (2000) and
Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (1992, 1997, 2001) have produced important
research on which this article builds (see Arlie Hochschild 2000;
Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2003). Many thanks for research assistance to
Bonnie Kwan. Also see the Technical Symposium on International Migration
and Development, the United Nations General Assembly, Special Session on
the International Conference on Population and Development, The Hague,
The Netherlands, June 29-July 2, 1998, Executive Summary, p. 2. See also
Migrant News, 2, (November 1998), p.2.
Ariès, P. (1962) Centuries of Childhood: A Social History
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Castles, S. and M. J. Miller (1998) The Age of Migration:
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Chang, G. (2000) Disposable Domestics: Immigrant Women Workers in
the Global Economy, Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
Ehrenreich, B. and A. Hochschild (eds.) (2003) Global Woman:
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Frank, R. (2001) 'High-paying nanny positions puncture fabric of
family life in developing nations', Wall Street Journal, December
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Glenn, E. N. (1991) 'From servitude to service work: historical
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United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1989) AnnexGA
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