Student-Generated Discussion Questions:
On page 118, Tronto says that Ruddick suggested that “to avoid over idealizing care..think about it in terms of a practice.” Tronto further says we need to break the traditional ideology that reinforces traditional gender roles that relate women to caring. How would Gilligan respond to this thought? How does Tronto’s idea of care intersect with Gilligan’s idea of femininity?
How might American society look different if it functioned under an ethic of care? Or, how might Emory as a community change if it were to align with an ethic of care?
How is care gendered, raced and classed? Why do you think this system has been able to persist and perpetuate?
Follow up question: How is the classed-care epidemic a cyclic process?
Follow up question: How does the classing/gendering/racing of care in our society show the complexity of care’s place in our society?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions:
Do you agree with Ruddick that “care” should not be defined in opposition to “justice”? More specifically, do you agree that the “justice/care framework” limits our understanding of the two terms (page 6)? And why?
Sara Ruddick describes the complex relationship between “care” and “justice” while further elaborating on the way “care” alone can be regarded as labor and a matter of relations. Do you think that in today’s society it is possible to have both “care” and “justice” together? Why or why not?
Ruddick explains the “ethics of care” and cites Plato saying that “a person progresses…from love of particular caring relations to love of caring institutions to love of care itself” (page 21). Do you concur that a person develops in this way?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Bubeck reading:
Bubeck talks about the automation of care being a form of “robotized care and parenting.” She then states that “complete automated care…is an abandonment of people to machines.” (162) If we refer back to Tronto’s idea of labor being passed on e.g. nannies and view this idea of automated care in terms of Bubeck’s two-part definition, then what do people become? Is it an abandonment of people to machines or a transformation of people to machines?
Bubeck stated that “femininity is characterized by both care and services for others, by being there for others.” Bubeck also discussed a school for carers. Do you think a school for carers has the ability to change the idea of femininity in relation to care. If so, how?
What are some similarities and differences between Bubeck’s and Tronto’s/Gilligan’s ideas about what care is?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Abel reading:
In the beginning of the text (pg. 41) Abel describes how many people felt a skeptical about the work of a physician and a large number of people were reluctant to rely on their services, instead depending on the care of local family and neighbors. She even references Nannie Alderson as writing the physician aiding a neighbor’s childbirth boasted about his degrees but then admitted his lack of experience and ability to assist. Consider this in juxtaposition to her previous accounts of Nannie Jackson and the various roles women in her neighborhood took on to provide care to the sick and those in need of care. What does this imply about the gender differences (as physicians were male) in terms of capability for care and desire to provide care?
On page 67, Abel discusses how while many authors refer to care as a burden, there are also people who have had to fight for their right to care. Specifically he talks about how slaves who became sick usually had their care decisions made for them by their owners, not their families. Is there such a thing as the right to care, or the right to choose who cares for you? In what ways did care differ between the slaves who were not allowed to care for their close ones and white women who were expected to?
In previous readings we have discussed the notion of caregiving labor as devalued in society, and often assigned to be the work of the powerless. However, Abel outlines several ways in which 19th century women were able to gain status, self-esteem, or even independence through their caregiving labors. Is it possible that in some situations caregiving can give the ‘powerless’ some degree of power? What were some of the ways caregiving increased independence, and how did these processes differ between white and black women? (for reference see p 50-53, 64-66)
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Reverby Reading:
In what way is the historical context surrounding the formation of nursing as a trade for the “daughters of the middle class” analogous to the expansion of the role of Physician Assistants, also predominantly female-employed. In other words, will female care “laborers” ever reach an equal participation in healthcare as males, or will new careers be founded to compartmentalize women in healthcare fields?
Context: Physician Assistants have less schooling (including no residency) compared to physicians. It is a traditionally popular field for females because of the more liberal lifestyle, allowing for more of a possibility for family.
Reverby states in her introduction that female nurses were at first unsuccessful in mobilizing politically because they were “a group so divided by class that their common oppression based on gender could not unite them” (pg. 6). In contrast, what has historically changed to allow for other oppressed groups to successfully mobilize and create a uniting political language?
Considering women’s morality and care as presented by Gilligan, she says that “women judgements are tied to feelings of empathy and compassion,” and that moral decisions rely on the effect of both self and others, and “engages directly the critical moral issue of hurting.” Reverby also discusses how there is a tradition of obligation, where the duty has become the nurses’ role to follow physician orders. Therefore, is womanly caring versus nursing really the same form of care? What kind of conflicts, if any, could arise from women fulfilling the nursing role? If conflicts exist, then why maintain a predominantly female nurse workforce?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Noddings Reading:
Noddings introduces the problem of how can teachers be regarded as caring professionals today (p. 169). One approach suggested was that “school structures should be redesigned with caring uppermost in mind” with the further proposal that students and teachers could stay together for several more years to further develop their relationships where both may be satisfied with the plan costing nothing. Do you think this would be an effective approach? Could such prolonged exposure between them result in the teacher to undergo “intensive caring” as described by Ruddick (p. 17), introducing a possible cost to the teacher caregiver?
Noddings explains that sociologists define professions with “self-selection and regulation, specialized knowledge, altruism or service, privilege and status hierarchies, collegiality, and autonomy” (166). The article suggests further that teaching may be better described as a “semiprofession” rather than a profession. Do you agree with this analysis? If so, to what degree/level of teaching do you believe the description to be accurate, and why? Do you think that striving for this title of “professional,” forces teachers to be less of caregivers?
In her feminine approach to ethics and care, Noddings examines the role of caring professionals, specifically that of teachers. In examining what it means to be a professional, Noddings brings the question of professionalization into account. She challenges that, “as we look carefully at each recommendation to increase the professional status of teachers, we see that the connection between the professionalization of teachers and the growth and well-being of students is by no means clear. It is inferential at best.” She continues on, paying heed to the example of medicine, suggesting caution by stating “it is by no means clear that the professionalization of medicine produced better patient care. On the contrary, many would argue that the benefits we now enjoy are products of medical science — more effective drugs, diagnostic instruments, and the like — and that actual medical care has deteriorated” (p. 167). Do you agree or disagree with Noddings that the process of professionalization has no impact on “making a difference” and thus playing the role of the carer? What is the distinction that she makes between professionalization and professionalism? What do you think Noddings’ opinion of physicians as caring professionals is?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Hochschild Reading:
Hochschild gives a detailed outline of systems of care or care “solutions”. What is the current culture of care in the United States as described by Hochschild? Does our current model of care require change and how do you think previous authors we have read, namely Bubeck, would respond to the idea of the warm model?
While our society values independence, the policies mentioned in the article pushed women toward private/unpaid work; often resulting in dependence on wage-earning men. What might Hochschild say regarding this contradiction and how it affects our society reaching the warm modern model? In a capitalist society, is it possible for unpaid work to be valued as much as paid work?
According to the reading, women must find tactics in order to get men involved in care, such as refusing to provide care on purpose, neglecting chores, etc. Why is it so difficult for most men to willingly provide care? What are some good tactics to get society to change this?
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for Kittay Reading:
Kittay’s text referenced a diminished autonomy’s effect on relations to a provider (45) to dependent, the power structure intrinsic to an ability, or lack thereof, to provide care. There is the suggestion of an “inequality of capacity” that she suggests may need legislation to regulate, as it gives rise to a moral hierarchy in this particular relationship. How does this differ from Aristotle’s views of women/slaves, free men, and moral agency? How does Kittay suggest that inequality interacts outside of a sex/gender and class categorization? Do you agree with the idea that care providers face this “inequality of situation” (45) in spite of their greater perceived power in the caregiver-dependent role?
Kittay states that women’s roles as dependency workers have made them “vulnerable to poverty, abuse, and secondary status” due to the patriarchal marriage and the dependency of women in the household on their husbands for resources (41). This is compounded by the barring of women from entrance into the public arena of political and economic participation through their roles at home. This leads to a “worse breakdown position”, in which she will tolerate a worse situation than her partner (43). Would stay-at-home fathers experience the same breakdown position given that men might have a different status or more opportunities in the public sphere?
In the section titled moral obligations to the dependency worker, Kittay explores what she terms “exchange reciprocity” (67). Exchange reciprocity differs from conventional notions of reciprocal care whereby one person in the carer/ dependent relationship may expect to exchange positions with the other person at a future date. In exchange reciprocity, reciprocation is not based on a sense of indebtedness, but rather on a “nested obligation” to care for someone you don’t believe will be cared for otherwise (67). For example Kittay states that one cares for their mother as a sense of obligation rather than reciprocation for her care. Do you agree with this notion? Will you care for those who cared for you based a sense of obligation rather than reciprocation for their care of you? And do you agree that obligation rests on the assumption that no one else will perform the caring work? Lastly, is this consistent with previous notions we have discussed that claim caring is performed based on an emotional connection?
How could our society change to become socially cooperative, and how would that change the idea of striving for becoming a “contributing member of society”?
Presentation: Care Studies Review
Student-Generated Discussion Questions for West Reading:
On page 93, West refers to the “woman’s nature” justification of caregiving. What factors do you believe fostered this justification, and do you think this stereotype is becoming obsolete? Or is the “woman’s choice” culture predominating thoughts on the role of women in care?
West describes the issues that could arise with the right to care and the support of caregiving on page 104. She explains that “the Constitution does not require the state to do anything on behalf of our rights.” This is in direct opposition to what West describes state support of caregiving would look like, which includes some sort of assistance (financial especially). Should the states be providing this support of caregiving or do you agree that it is not in line with the Constitution? How do you preserve privacy if the state becomes involved?
On p. 106, West brings up one criticism which states that a supported right to care would only benefit a few members of society and would falsely legitimize the idea that the structural injustices of poverty can be “solved” by providing a supported right to care. West’s response is that legitimization may have to be a “cost worth absorbing” and that “while a right to care might legitimate the poverty it leaves untouched, it touches quite a lot” (p.109). Do agree that such sacrifices, in which the good outweighs the bad, must sometimes be made in order to progress? Or do you think that exacerbating and legitimizing the issues of poverty, with possible long-term social issues resulting, remains unacceptable despite the overall progress it may bring?
Presentation: Mental Health Care and the History of the Institution
Presentation: Beyond the “Single Story” of Cuckoo’s Nest
Materials from in-class exercise:
Each group re-imagined a moment in Tangles from the perspective of the father rather than the daughter:
Group 1: reinterpretation of p. 48 (panel in top left hand corner)
Group 2: reinterpretation of p. 71 (second panel from the left on third row)
reinterpretation of p. 51 (fourth row of panels)
reinterpretation of p. 106 (whole page single panel)
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
— Franz Kafka