The Care Crisis: What Caused It and How Can We End It? (Hardcover)

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An examination of the global economic crisis from the perspective of care

Valuing care and care work does not simply mean attributing care work more monetary value. To really achieve change, we must go further.

In this groundbreaking book, Emma Dowling charts the multi-faceted nature of care in the modern world, from the mantras of self-care and what they tell us about our anxieties, to the state of the social care system. She examines the relations of power that play profitability and care off in against one another in a myriad of ways, exposing the devastating impact of financialisation and austerity.

As the world becomes seemingly more uncaring, the calls for people to be more compassionate and empathetic towards one another—in short, to care more—become ever-more vocal. The Care Crisis challenges the idea that people ever stopped caring, but also that the deep and multi-faceted crises of our time will be solved by a simply (re)instilling the virtues of empathy. There is no easy fix.

The Care Crisis enquires into the ways in which the continued off-loading of the cost of care onto the shoulders of underpaid and unpaid realms of society, untangling how this off-loading combines with commodification, marketisation and financialisation to produce the mess we are living in. The Care Crisis charts the current experiments in short-term fixes to the care crisis that are taking place within Britain, with austerity as the backdrop. It maps the economy of abandonment, raising the question: to whom care is afforded? And what would it mean to seriously value care?

About the Author


Emma Dowling teaches at the University of Vienna. She has written for New Humanist, Red Pepper, LuXemburg, OpenDemocracy and the Financial Times.

Praise For…


“Emma Dowling brilliantly combines theory, statistics and on-the-ground experience to argue that contemporary British culture is using inadequate and destructive capitalist ‘care fixes’ to solve its social problems—social problems which have themselves emerged from the systematic erosion of our socialised care infrastructures. It is a lucid and eye-opening account which will be extremely useful for lay readers, policymakers, academics and activists.”
—Jo Littler, co-author of The Care Manifesto

“An absolutely brilliant if devastating analysis of our current care crisis and the grotesquely inadequate ‘care fixes’ presently on offer. In precise and accessible language, Emma Dowling expertly details the economic and political forces that have converged to produce such an uncaring state. This book is an urgent clarion call for a radically transformed society, where care not profit is placed front and center and where human thriving is prioritized. An essential read for everyone committed to envisioning a better, more caring future.”
—Catherine Rottenberg, author of The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism

“A compelling tour de force of the ways our lives are underpinned by radical inequalities in care and caring: from care as wealth extraction to commodified cuddling. This is a highly readable book about how our whole economy is organised, how we are all drawn into fixing widespread system failure, yet only manage to displace problems even further.”
—Beverley Skeggs, Distinguished Professor, Centre for Alternatives to Social Inequality, University of Lancaster

“Dowling presents an astute insight on what our capitalist economy looks like from the perspective of care, brilliantly piecing together the many facets of the current crisis. Emma Dowling reveals what happens when a society’s capacities for care are eroded, and issues an electrifying warning against false solutions.”
—Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism

“Lays bare the current crisis in care and the wages of austerity, Emma Dowling’s work shows us just how far we still have to go. A brave call to arms.”
—Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%

“This book provides a compelling and compassionate analysis of the care deficits engulfing the United Kingdom—and the global economy in general—even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Emma Dowling’s detailed critique of the financialization of adult social care deserves attention from activists and policymakers around the world.”
—Nancy Folbre, author of The Invisible Heart

The Care Crisis is unique in threading together the many different sites across society where paid and unpaid caring takes place. The book demonstrates how a long-standing subjugation of caring bodies and feelings is entering a new phase. With a focus on the UK context and with relevance to debates beyond it, Emma Dowling offers a powerful analysis of the politics and economics of care, making evident the urgent need to transform the material conditions of our lives.”
—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch

“Emma Dowling has written a book for our times: a meditation on care, its burdens and its possibilities. Dowling deftly weaves together theories of care with empirical interviews in order to understand how and why we care and the ways in which care can be the basis for radical politics in this time of crisis.”
—Akwugo Emejulu, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

“Health care policymakers and medical consumers alike will find [Dowling’s] arguments urgent—and in dire need of solution.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This is a sharp and incisive book on one of the most pressing issues of our time—care work and its organization. Through a close examination of the material conditions that shape this work, and through engagement with the workers providing it, Dowling has produced a vital study of the dynamics of care after austerity. I highly recommend it.”
—Helen Hester, author of Xenofeminism

“A lucid and alarming picture of how political decisions have created roadblocks to better care … [A] passionate and persuasive call for reform.”
Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9781786630346
ISBN-10: 1786630346
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: January 26th, 2021
Pages: 256
Language: English