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Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in Americaby Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Synopses & Reviews
The United States faces a growing crisis in care. The number of people needing care is growing while the ranks of traditional caregivers have shrunk. The status of care workers is a critical concern.
Evelyn Nakano Glenn offers an innovative interpretation of care labor in the United States by tracing the roots of inequity along two interconnected strands: unpaid caring within the family; and slavery, indenture, and other forms of coerced labor. By bringing both into the same analytic framework, she provides a convincing explanation of the devaluation of care work and the exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from critical rights such as minimum wage, retirement benefits, and workers' compensation. Glenn reveals how assumptions about gender, family, home, civilization, and citizenship have shaped the development of care labor and been incorporated into law and social policies. She exposes the underlying systems of control that have resulted in women—especially immigrants and women of color—performing a disproportionate share of caring labor. Finally, she examines strategies for improving the situation of unpaid family caregivers and paid home healthcare workers.
This important and timely book illuminates the source of contradictions between American beliefs about the value and importance of caring in a good society and the exploitation and devalued status of those who actually do the caring.
Book News Annotation:
This provocative and extensively researched critique of the societal organization of caregiving in the United States examines the role coercion plays in maintaining a system where the burden of care falls predominantly on women. Glenn (Women's Studies, California U, Berkeley) examines the history of care labor noting that both in-home unpaid care labor and care in institutional settings are rooted in inequality, and that low-income, immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The volume discusses the devaluation of care work and exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from fair labor laws such as minimum wage and worker's compensation. Recommendations for the restructuring of the care system are included. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Evelyn Nakano Glenn is Professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
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