Author ORCID Identifier

Jennifer Nedelsky: 0000-0001-9828-3085

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Bertrand, E., & Panitch, V. (Eds.). (2023). The Routledge Handbook of Commodification (1st ed.). Routledge.


Care is routinely provided both as a commodity (paid care) and as unpaid care, usually by women. Virtually all care is treated as of low value, and care givers, paid and unpaid, are seen as low status. This devaluing of care and those who do it make care a major part of hierarchy and inequality. I argue that the solution is not more commodification (like wages for housework), but a norm of universal, unpaid care-giving. This would be made possible by a corresponding norm of limiting paid work to 30 hours a week. Part Time for All: A Care Manifesto (Nedelsky and Malleson, 2023) spells out a feasible proposal for restructuring work and care in high-income countries in today’s global economy and offers arguments for transformation everywhere. The new norms are summarized here along with their main contributions. PTfA would redress four pressing problems: the inequality of caregivers; family stress from incompatible demands of work and care; chronic time scarcity; and policymakers’ ignorance about the care that life requires—the care/policy divide. These solutions rest on the revaluing of care that would arise when everyone understands themselves as both a care-giver and a care receiver. This transformation would be made possible by a norm that everyone, regardless of the “importance” of their work, contributes about 22 hours a week of unpaid care to family, friends, and community. These norms transform traditional (and some aspirational) relationships of care to the market, the family, and the state.


Working title: "Care As Commodity? In Praise Of Unpaid Care From All"

Available for download on Monday, June 03, 2024