Nancy Fraser on the Crisis of Care

Dartmouth Events

Nancy Fraser on the Crisis of Care

Many posit that we live through a “crisis of care.” But what exactly is in crisis? Nancy Fraser discusses crises and the social contradictions of contemporary capitalism.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Carson L01
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Many observers posit that we are living through a “crisis of care.” But what exactly is in crisis here? Are our current care deficits rooted primarily in an “imbalance of family and work,” and can they be solved by reforming the latter? Or are we facing a broader, more far-reaching crisis, of which the “crisis of care” constitutes but one strand, inextricably interwoven with others? And in that case, what is the true object of the crisis, and what are its deep-structural sources?


Nancy Fraser argues that our present dysfunctions of care are best understood as expressions, under historically specific contemporary conditions, of a general tendency to social-reproductive crisis that is intrinsic to capitalist societies. Fraser elaborates this thesis in three steps. First, she proposes a general account of “the social-reproductive contradiction of capitalism” as such, without reference to any particular historical form. Then, Fraser sketches the unfolding of this contradiction in two previous historical forms of capitalist society: the liberal competitive capitalism of the 19th century, and the state-managed form of the 20th. Finally, Fraser sketches an account of our current crisis of care as an expression of capitalism’s social-reproductive contradiction in its present, financialized phase. 


Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York and Professor II at the Centre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo. She also holds the Chair in «Global Justice» at the Collège d’études mondiales, Paris. A specialist in critical theory and political philosophy, Nancy Fraser’s most recent books are Domination et anticipation : pour un renouveau de la critique, with Luc Boltanski (2014); Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: Nancy Fraser debates her Critics (2014); and Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (2013). Previous books include Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space for a Globalizing World (2008); Adding Insult to Injury: Nancy Fraser Debates her Critics, ed. Kevin Olson (2008); Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange (2003) with Axel Honneth; Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the "Postsocialist" Condition (1997); and Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (1989). Fraser’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and was cited twice by the Brazilian Supreme Court (in decisions upholding marriage equality and affirmative action). She is currently working on a book called, “Capitalism, Crisis, Critique: A Critical Theory for the 21st Century.”

For more information, contact:
Shagun Herur

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