Carework Virtual Symposium

“Moving Past Emergency Responses: Care as Essential Infrastructure”

March 1-3, 2022

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has had transformative impacts in the world of care, some negative and some positive. The Carework Network is organizing a three-day virtual symposium to bring together carework researchers from across disciplines and across the globe.

Bring us your big ideas!! Submissions now open for Scholars-in Dialogue sessions. Extended abstracts due October 15, 2021. Think about your work in dialogue with top care work scholars such as Nancy Folbre, Maria Nieves Rico, Joan Tronto, Juliana Martinez Franzoni, Gabrielle Meagher, Fiona Williams, Ariel Ducey, Julie MacLeavy, and Allison Pugh.


The centerpiece of the symposium will be a series of three Scholars-in-Dialogue sessions, a novel format that will feature established care scholars discussing selected papers from innovative scholars at all levels. This is where you come in – bring us those innovative ideas percolating in the back of your head!

These sessions are designed to move beyond the conversation about immediate emergency responses to the pandemic and engage with longer-term questions about the future of carework scholarship and advocacy.

The themes for the sessions are:

  • Revisiting the Meaning(s) of Care (featuring Nancy Folbre, Maria Nieves Rico and Joan Tronto)
  • The Role of the State (featuring Juliana Martinez Franzoni, Gabrielle Meagher, and Fiona Williams)
  • Technological Futures of Care (featuring Ariel Ducey, Julie MacLeavy, and Allison Pugh)

In addition to the Scholars-in-Dialogue sessions, the symposium will include three interactive workshops. The goal of these workshops is to provide a forum for practical hands-on discussions of the nitty gritty of research and publishing in the care field. The themes for the workshops are:

  • Methodological Challenges and Opportunities
  • Connecting Research to Policy
  • Publishing Care Scholarship


We invite scholars at all levels and from all disciplines to share their biggest and best ideas, even if they are still in formation. We will select three of the submissions to be featured in each Scholars-in-Dialogue session, and these papers will form the basis of the conversation. It is our hope that this substantive exchange of ideas will make all of our work stronger, as we move to advance our field in this critical historical moment.

Scholars interested in submitting their work should submit a 2-3 page extended abstract to by October 15, 2021. Please indicate clearly which session you are submitting to (see full descriptions below). If selected, you will be notified by December 1, 2021 and expected to submit a full DRAFT paper by February 1, 2022.




Session 1: Revisiting the Meaning(s) of Care (March 1, 10am-12pm EST)

Organizer: Guillermina Altomonte
Expert Panelists: Joan Tronto, Nancy Folbre, and Nieves Rico

The COVID-19 pandemic has moved care work to the center of public debate in many countries across the globe. The terms of the dialogue have changed—its provision now redefined as infrastructure; its providers as essential workers (both remunerated and not). These categories not only make care visible and allow us to demand urgent (and long overdue) policy changes, but also invite us to rethink the boundaries and possibilities of this concept. This session convenes a discussion on how to theorize care work in our current times. We welcome submissions aimed at, though not restricted to, these themes: How has the pandemic pushed existing conceptualizations and categorizations of care—paid and unpaid, public and private, community and institutional-based, “dirty” and nurturing, human and non-human? How has the pandemic redefined the relationship of care work with kindred concepts, such as social reproduction or “essential work”? What has the pandemic taught us about existing theories of valuation/devaluation of care work (or how care “counts”)? How do we envision the theorizing and policy use of the concept of care
moving forward?

Session 2: The Role of the State (March 2, 3-5pm EST)

Organizer: Katherine Ravenswood
Expert Panelists: Gabrielle Meagher, Juliana Martinez, and Fiona Williams

The current pandemic has highlighted the ways in which feminized care work (paid and unpaid) is essential to society and the economy. This has been apparent in both research and public debate where those in low paid care occupations are on the frontline during ‘lockdowns’ – often at greatest risk, with least protection. At the same time, the additional care duties that women have taken on in the home have negatively impacted their paid work opportunities. Despite the ways in which care work is, more than ever, essential to support society and the economy, it is often overlooked by governments and left to the market to regulate, even in countries reputed to have better and stronger government regulation of employment and public health. This session builds on the concept of care as essential infrastructure and seeks forward looking papers that illustrate or suggest how care work can be built into nations’ economy and infrastructure. This session aims to provide international perspectives, and therefore encourages papers from economies or nations that are less often researched, or papers that compare national contexts.

Session 3: Technological Futures of Care (March 3, 10am-12pm EST)

Organizer: Cindy Cain
Expert Panelists: Ariel Ducey, Allison Pugh, and Julie MacLeavy

Technological solutions have been proposed for a range of care needs – from managing health information, predicting needs, controlling medications, supporting mobility, and even serving as a companion for care recipients. Even before the pandemic, technological advancements were thought to be one way to confront the care gap and improve quality of life for care recipients. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting additional pressures to consider how technology and care intersect. Reductions in face-to-face interactions have resulted in
more virtual contact between care recipients and caregivers, both formal and informal. New advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence have been considered for better predicting needs. Automation has been seen as a solution for staffing shortages in care organizations. However, new technologies also present new challenges, including ethical issues, financial considerations, unequal access, and unintended effects. This session will imagine our various technological futures of care, with a discussion of both the benefits and possible drawbacks of technological solutions to care problems.


Workshop 1: Methodological challenges and opportunities (March 1, 3-5pm EST)

Organizer: Naomi Lightman
Expert Panelists: Paulina López González and Tracy Anderson, Gabriela Marzonetto, LaTonya Trotter

Just as care is defined in numerous ways, scholars, policymakers and activists are “doing” care research using a variety of methodological approaches, each with challenges and opportunities. The pandemic created unique circumstances for those collecting primary data and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities for those providing paid and unpaid care as well as between researchers and participants. As we work to “build back better” there is a need to think of innovative ways to do transformative research on care.

This workshop will be led by three scholars using diverse and innovative methods to study care, both during and after the pandemic. Scholars will share their own experiences and strategies, focusing both on practical challenges as well as the particular ethical dilemmas of care research. Participants will then have an opportunity to share a proposal or set of questions about a methodological challenge they are facing and get feedback from the workshop leaders as well as from the other participants.


Workshop 2: Connecting research to policy (March 2, 10am-12pm EST)

Organizer: Pilar Gonalons Pons
Expert Panelists: Julie Kashen, Akira Rodriguez

The COVID-19 Pandemic has catalyzed a public reckoning about care work, placing care work as a central and transversal issue in discussions about social policy and social change. Care work scholarship can make important contributions informing the burgeoning debates rethinking how care work is valued, organized, and recognized. Despite the breadth of expertise and knowledge, it is not always clear or easy to bridge the worlds of research and social policy action.

In this workshop, care work advocates and engaged scholars will share their expertise on best practices and strategies to establish fruitful and impactful collaborations between researchers and political actors. The workshop will be led by three experts representing different kinds of collaborations, covering collaborations with community and advocacy groups as well as public representatives and lawmakers. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss a proposal describing how they see their research being useful to political actors.


Workshop 3: Publishing care scholarship (March 3, 3-5pm EST)

Organizer: Mignon Duffy
Expert Panelists: Amy Armenia, Mignon Duffy, Joya Misra, Kim Price-Glynn

Care is an emergent and interdisciplinary field situated very much at the intersections of feminist scholarship, public health, work and occupations, families, and policy (to name a few). Because of this, it can be particularly challenging to find appropriate outlets for publication of care scholarship. The goals of this workshop are twofold. First, we want to engage in a conversation about the future of care as a field from the perspective of publishing outlets. And second, we want to offer practical advice and feedback to care scholars seeking publication for their work.

The workshop will be led by senior scholars who currently or previously hold editorial positions for book publishers or journals that publish care-focused scholarship. Each leader will begin with a short presentation, focusing on strategies for navigating to successful publication. Then, participants will have the opportunity to present their work in progress in breakout sessions, and get specific guidance and feedback from workshop leaders and other participants. Participants at all stages of the publication process are welcome.




Please feel free to reach out to any of us if you have any questions at

The Virtual Symposium Subcommittee of the Carework Network.

Naomi Lightman (co-chair)
Mignon Duffy (co-chair)
Cindy Cain
Fiona MacDonald
Grazi Figueredo
Guillermina Altomonte
Katherine Ravenswood
Melissa Hodges
Pilar Gonalons Pons
Kim Price-Glynn
Amy Armenia


The Carework Network is an international organization of scholars and advocates who focus on the caring work of individuals, families, communities, paid and unpaid caregivers, social service agencies and state bureaucracies. Care needs are shifting globally with changing demographics, disability movements, and climate change driven environmental crises. Our mission is to address critical issues related to carework, such as how identities influence carework; how inequality structures carework; how caring work is recognized and compensated; how national and global policies influence the distribution of care; the relationship between care work and movements for democracy, labor rights and social justice; care worker migration; working conditions of care; the impact of technology and artificial intelligence on care; the different experience of care in urban and rural areas; and whether and to what extent citizens have a right to receive, and a right to provide, care. Scholars and advocates working on issues related to elder care, child care, health care, social work, education, domestic work, political theory of care, social reproduction, work/family, disability studies, careworker health and safety, and related issues are encouraged to submit proposals.

The Carework Network welcomes submissions from all academic disciplines, advocacy and nonprofit organizations, and public and private sector organizations. We also encourage participation by undergraduate and graduate students.