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. Please join us! Registrations details below.


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.

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


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?

  • Can and Should Care Mean Empowerment?” by Chloe Alexander, Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology, University of Birmingham
  •  “Is it ‘Care’ if You Can’t Leave?” by Janna Klostermann, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada
  • Worker health, public health, economic health: The evolution of domestic workers’ self-advocacy during the pandemic” by Elizabeth Pellerito, University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Anna Rosińska, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

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

Organizer: Katherine Ravenswood
Expert Panelists: Juliana Martinez, Gabrielle Meagher, 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.

  • Beyond Covid-19: Putting care at the centre of a feminist social contract” by Silke Staab (Research Specialist, UN Women) & Laura Turquet (Policy Advisor and Deputy Chief of Research and Data, UN Women)
  • Carework on the political agenda? Reflections in the midst of the crisis’”by Liz L. Isidro Ferrer & Trilce R. Fortuna Chuchón (both are from Suyuq Laboratotio Ciudadano)
  • Envisioning a Caring Democracy through citizen deliberation? – Care and Ireland’s Citizen Assembly on Gender Equality” by Cliona Loughnane (Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21), University College Cork)

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

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

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.

  • Manufacturing Trust: Actuarial Management in Online Carework Platforms” by Julia Ticona, University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication
  • Telemedicine and the Redistribution of Care” by Mercer Gary, Crawford Fellow in Ethical Inquiry at the Rock Ethics Institute and PhD Candidate in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University
  • “Care Infrastructure Amid Just Transitions” by Alison Kenner, Associate Professor of Politics, Drexel University (co-authors include James Adams, Morgan Sarao, Birana Leone, and Andrew Rosenthal)


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, Anna Rosinska

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.


Session 1: Revisiting the Meaning(s) of Care

María Nieves Rico specializes in public policy with a focus on gender and human rights, and has written countless articles, documents and books on the situation of women and gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean in areas such as the labor market, migration, family, care, training and education, poverty, social protection, and violence. Currently an independent consultant, she previously served as Director of the Gender Affairs Division of ECLAC, in Chile. Her groundbreaking contributions to social sciences, public policy, and gender in the Latin American region were recently recognized with the publication of the tribute edited volume “Feminismos, cuidados e institucionalidad. Homenaje a Nieves Rico” (Fundacion Medife, 2021). Nieves is an Anthropologist from the National University of Rosario in Argentina, with a master’s degree in the Sociology of Development, a master’s degree in Urban Development and Local Administration, and PhD studies in Sociology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Joan Tronto is Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and at the City University of New York. A leading theorist of the ethics of care, she is the author of several books, including Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality and Justice (NYU Press, 2013) and Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care (Routledge, 1993), in addition to numerous articles and book chapters.

Nancy Folbre is Professor Emerita of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she currently directs a research program at the Political Economy Institute. Her work explores the interface between political economy and feminist theory, with a particular emphasis on the value of unpaid care work. In addition to numerous articles published in academic journals, she is the author of The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Systems: An Intersectional Political Economy (Verso, 2021), Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (Oxford, 2009), Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (Harvard, 2008), and The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values (New Press, 2001). She is also the editor of For Love and Money: Care Work in the U.S. (Russell Sage, 2012). She writes regularly on the political economy of care provision in her blog, Care Talks. Professor Folbre is recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and she has consulted for the United Nations Human Development Office, the World Bank and other organizations.

Session 2: The Role of the State

Juliana Martínez Franzoni was Humboldt Chair 2021 at the University of Costa Rica and is currently recipient of the Georg Forster Award by the Humboldt Foundation in Germany. She conducts comparative research on the political economy of social policy in Latin America. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and has been a Fulbright scholar and a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies in the US along other institutions in Europe and Latin America. In addition to numerous articles published in academic journals, her most recent book, written with Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, is The Quest for Universal Social Policy in the South: Actors, Ideas and Architectures (Cambridge University Press, 2016). She is editor of the feminist journal Social Politics and undertakes regular consultancies with different international institutions like UNDP and UN-Woman. She is part of the Carework Network.

Gabrielle Meagher is Professor Emerita in the School of Social Sciences at Macquarie University and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social Work at Stockholm University. Trained as a political economist, she is interested in care work as a social policy issue, and in marketisation and privatisation of formal social care services. She has collaborated with unions and non-profits to challenge the undervaluation of care work.

Fiona Williams is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Leeds and Honorary Professor at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia. She has published widely on gender, care, race and migration in social policy. Her latest book, Social Policy. A Critical and Intersectional Analysis, examines what the crises of racialized borders, of care, and of climate change mean for social policy. She is a Fellow of the British Academy where she edits the Journal of the British Academy. She was awarded an OBE in 2004.

Session 3: Technological Futures of Care

Ariel Ducey is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, Canada. Her research centers on issues of []responsibility, care, knowledge, and emotions in the institutions and practices of health care and medicine. Her book, Never Good Enough (Cornell 2009), examined the creation and consequences of a billion-dollar industry for training, upgrading, and multiskilling unionized, frontline health care workers in New York City, in the midst of widespread neoliberal pressures on health care and education. She has also published several book chapters on affect as a site for the production of value and meaning in health care. Currently, Ariel is completing a qualitative research project about ethicality and devices in pelvic floor surgery and has started new research on the medical sensorium – how it is configured, how technology is part of it, and how to document, model, and denaturalize it. 

Julie MacLeavy is a Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Bristol, UK. She has developed and consolidated a research profile as an expert on the lived experience of neoliberal austerity and economic change through empirically grounded and critically engaged analysis of labour market restructuring, welfare reform and urban renewal in the UK and North America. Julie’s research brings the intersectional dynamics of gender, race and class into consideration of the social, financial, material and institutional impacts of the significant divestment in state sponsored services from the late 1970s. Of particular note is her recent work evaluating the potential for technological investments to change collective economic and care systems and resolve the emergent ‘care crisis’ in nations facing labour shortages, funding constraints, and hostility to immigration.

Allison Pugh is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality at the University of Virginia.  Her research and teaching focus on how economic trends – from job insecurity to commodification to automation – shape the way people forge connections and find meaning and dignity at home and at work.  Her current book project, under contract with Princeton University Press, is a study of the standardization of interpersonal work, including care work.  Her first book, Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture (2009), won multiple best book awards and was widely reviewed; her second, The Tumbleweed Society:  Working and Caring in an Insecure Age (2015) was excerpted in the New Republic and the New York Times.  She has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Berggruen Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a visiting scholar in Germany, France and Australia.


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)
Amy Armenia
Cindy Cain
Fiona MacDonald
Grazielle Valentim
Guillermina Altomonte
Katherine Ravenswood
Kim Price-Glynn
LaShawnda Pittman
Melissa Hodges
Pilar Gonalons Pons
Kim England
Anna Zendall


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.

**This event is co-hosted by the Southern Gerontological Society (SGS)