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Who Cares?How to Reshape a Democratic Politics$
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Joan C. Tronto

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702747

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702747.001.0001

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When We Understand Care, We’ll Need to Redefine Democracy

When We Understand Care, We’ll Need to Redefine Democracy

(p.3) When We Understand Care, We’ll Need to Redefine Democracy
Who Cares?

Joan C. Tronto

Cornell University Press

This chapter explains what it means to care well. As a starting place for reimagining democracy along caring lines, it presents four phases of care in order to analyze care practices more fully, i.e. care requires: (i) identifying caring needs; (ii) accepting responsibility and realizing that something has to be done; (iii) performing the actual task of caregiving; and (iv) repeating phases (i)-(iii). The discussion then turns to how care is always infused with power, which makes it deeply political. It addresses the following paradox: Democracy requires that people be equal, but mainly, care is about inequality. How can we think about turning something that is so unequal into something that is equal? It argues that what makes care equal is not the perfection of an individual caring act, but that we can trust that over time, we will be able to reciprocate the care we received from fellow citizens, and that they will reciprocate the care we've given to them. The chapter also proposes a new definition of democracy: democracy is the allocation of caring responsibilities and assuring that everyone can participate in those allocations of care as completely as possible.

Keywords:   care, caring, caregiving, democracy, politics, power, inequality

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