Caring Labor and the Labor of Care
in Voluntary and Non-Profit Organizations



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Why Is This Topic Important to Public Administration?
Definitions
List of Related Articles by Deniz Zeynep Leuenberger
Relevant Literature
Organizational Links

WHY IS THIS TOPIC IMPORTANT TO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION?


Public administrators perform caring labor on a daily basis. We know caring labor when we see it. It is the nurse who spends additional time talking to a lonely patient, it is the office clerk resolving the needs of the citizen (even if this means going beyond their listed job duties), it is the friendly smile and additional courtesy when you get your drivers license. It is work contributed with the intent of serving others and with the goal of improving outcomes for members of society. It is a large part of the work of public administrators.

Police officers, teachers, firefighters, city managers, social workers, and many other professionals working in public and non-profit agencies are providing the labor of care and building relationships with citizens on an on-going basis. Caring labor builds social capital and increases social welfare in communities all across the world.

In addition to paid caring labor, thousand of volunteers contribute unpaid voluntary labor. In addition, paid workers often donate unpaid caring labor to their organizations and the people they serve.

We must pay attention to the labor of care in public administration because it contributes to positive social outcomes, it is embedded in the normative orientation of public administration practice, it is often unmeasured and underpaid, and it is vital to the improved social welfare of societies.

 


DEFINITIONS
(see relevant literature for references)


CARING LABOR AND THE LABOR OF CARE

According to economist Nancy Folbre in The Invisible Heart, caring labor is performed “on a person-to-person basis” and “in relationships” (Folbre 2001). It is often unpaid and is a “non-market” variable, with a difficult to identify price (Folbre 2001). Unlike labor in general, it is often performed on a voluntary basis, within the context of family and friends, or in addition to reimbursed labor. It is concerned with emotional well-being and respect for others , and is not work for pure pecuniary gain (Folbre 2001; Hoschschild 2003). It is based on the ethic of responsibility (Gilligan 1993; Jones 2001). The price does not fully represent the entire value of the exchange.
 

SOCIAL CAPITAL and NON-PROFIT AND GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

There is an increasing concern that the adoption of market-based models by public and non-profit agencies may lead to social costs such as reduction in social capital and increased inequities for individuals who are unable to pay for services at the market price (Salamon 1997; Folbre 2001; and Eikenberry and Kluver 2004). There is a fear by public and non-profit organizations that if decision making resembles that of the for-profit sector, that a there will be reduced services for individuals who need them, but cannot afford them. Care requires making choices, in public and non-profit agencies, based on a vision and mission, instead of being based on profit-based motives. It means that decision to offer some services are not based on traditional cost/benefit analysis, but on variables outside the economic equation such as ethical stance and altruistic social values (Folbre 2001). Care-based decisions require the provision of services to individuals who cannot pay the market rate (Folbre 2001). Children, those in poverty, and those who are ill or disabled are potential customers for care that would not be provided for in a competitive exchange economy (Folbre 2001). In work where care is a key component, such as in the fields of education, health care, and social services, it is often excluded from the formal cost/benefit analysis and therefore is undervalues undervalued to labor of care and of service (Folbre 2001). Supplying care, therefore, often results in under-compensation for the work of care laborers, who are mostly women, regardless of the full value of the service.
 


LIST OF RELATED ARTICLES AND PRESENTATION BY DENIZ LEUENBERGER
 


Leuenberger, Deniz. 2005. Love’s labor found: Contribution from feminist theory to the “labor of care” in the work of public administration. Administrative Theory and Praxis, 27 (2): 401-406.

Women’s work and volunteerism: Revealing the true value and contribution of service and caring labor. Deniz Leuenberger. Women as Global Leaders Conference, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 2006.

Purchasing voice: Three experiments in the Nebraska behavioral health system. Deniz Leuenberger. ARNOVA Annual Conference, Los Angeles, November 2004.

Religion and non-profits in the new millennium: A study of Nebraska’s faith-based initiative and consequences for behavioral service provision networks. Deniz Leuenberger and Robert Blair, ASPA Region IV Conference, Sioux City, October 2004.
 


RELEVANT LITERATURE
 


Alexander, Jennifer, Renne Nank, and Camilla Strivers. (1999). Implications of welfare reform: Do nonprofit survival strategies threaten civil society. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 28 (4): 452-475.

Brewis, Joanna (2003). On the front line: Women’s experiences of managing the new public services. Jim Barry, Mike Dent, and Maggie O’Neill, Eds. Gender and the public sector: Professionals and managerial change. London: Routledge, 132-153.

Dent, Mike. (2003). Jim Barry, Mike Dent, and Maggie O’Neill, Eds. Gender and the public sector: Professionals and managerial change. London: Routledge, 65-82.

Eikenberry, Angela M. and Jodie Drapal Kluver. (2004). The marketization of the nonprofit sector: Civil society at risk? Public Administration Review 64 (2) 132-140.

England, Paula and Nancy Folbre. (2003). Contracting for care. Eds. Paula England and Nancy Folbre. Feminist Economics Today: Beyond Economic Man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 61-80.

Feiner, Susan F. (2003). Reading neoclassical economics: Toward an erotic economy of sharing. Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 180-193.

Folbre, Nancy. (2003). “Holding hands at midnight”: The paradox of caring labor. Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 213-230.

Folbre, Nancy. (2001). The invisible heart: Economics and family values. New York: TheNew York Press.

Gibelman, Margaret. (1999). Helping clients, helping ourselves: A social work agenda for achieving occupational equity. AFFLIA 14(4): 400-416.

Gilligan, Carol. (1993). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Harrison, Anthony (1992). Part 2 Main events in Health Care UK 1991. Ed. Anthony Harrison. An Annual Review of Health Care Policy. London: King’s Fund Institute, 7-31.

Helgesen, Sally. (1995). The web of inclusion. New York: Currency/Doubleday.

Helsegesen, Sally. (1990). The female advantage: Women’s ways of leadership. New York: Doubleday/Currency.

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. (2003). The commercialization of intimate life: Notes from home and work. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hopfl, Heather. (2003). Ministering angles and the virtuous profession: Service and professional indemnity. Jim Barry, Mike Dent, and Maggie O’Neill, Eds. Gender and the public sector: Professionals and managerial change. London: Routledge, 170-186.

Hood, Christopher. (1991). A public management for all season? Public Administration 69, 3-19.

Jacobsen, Joyce P. (2003). Some implications of the feminist project in economics for empirical methodology. Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 89-105.

Jones, Andrew W. (2001). Caring labor and class consciousness: The class dynamics of gendered work. Sociological Forum 16(2): 281-299.

Nelson, Julie A. (2003). How did “the moral” get split from “the economic”? Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 134-143.

Nelson, Julie A. (2003). Separative and Soluable Firms: Androcentric Bias and Business Ethics. Eds. Paula England and Nancy Folbre. Feminist Economics Today: Beyond Economic Man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 33-60.

Ostrander, Susan A. and Stuart Langston. Eds. (1987). Shifting the debate: Public/Private sector relations in the modern welfare state. New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions Books.

Reiger, Kerreen. (2001). From tender care to tendered care: The case of the Victorian maternal and child care service. Australian Journal of Social Issues 36 (4): 333-349.

Ritzer, George.(2004). The McDonalization of society. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.

Roper, Barbara. (1994). Women and volunteer activity: One practioner’s adventures in leadership. Eds. Teresa Odendahl and Michael O’Neill. Women and Power in the Nonprofit Sector, 267-293.

Salamon, Lester M. (1997). Holding the center: America’s nonprofit sector at the crossroads. New York: Brookings Institution Press.

Smith, Adam. (1776, 1991). Wealth of nations. New York: Prometheus Books.

Smith, Steven R. and Lipsky Michael. Non-profits for hire: The welfare state in the age of contracting. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Steinberg Ronnie J. and Jerry A. Jacobs. Pay equity in nonprofit organizations: Making women’s work visible. Eds. Teresa Odendahl and Michael O’Neill. Women and Power in the Nonprofit Sector, 79-120.

Stivers, Camilla. (2002). Gender images in public administration: Legitimacy and the administrative state. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication.

Stivers, Camilla. (2000). Bureau men, settlement women: Constructing public administration in the Progressive Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Van Staveren, Irene. (2003). Feminist fiction and feminist economics: Charolette Perkins Gilman on efficiency. Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 56-70.

Van Velzen, Susan (2003). Hazel Kyrk and the ethics of consumptions. Eds. Drucilla K.Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 38-55.

Verba, Sidney, Lay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic volunteerism in American politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Wilkinson, Michael J. (1995). Love is not a marketable commodity: New public management in the British National Health Service. Journal of Advance Nursing 21, 980-987.

Wood, Cynthia (2003). Economic marginalia: Postcolonial readings of unpaid domestic labor and development. Eds. Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper. Toward a feminist philosophy of economics. London: Routledge, 304-320.



ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS


Nancy Folbre Home Page

 
Institute for Women's Policy Research

 


Submitted by Dr. Deniz Leuenberger- Bridgewater State College Department of Political Science
You may contact Dr. Leuenberger at dleuenberger@bridgew.edu