Every one of us will need care at some point in life: social care, healthcare, childcare, eldercare. In the shadow of COVID-19, care has become the most urgent topic of our times. But our care systems are in crisis. Concern for the most vulnerable has been overtaken by an obsession with profits and productivity. How did we end up here?
In an era of economic turmoil, lower birth rates and increased life expectancy mean a larger proportion of the population than ever before is of retirement age. As a result, more people need care, and their numbers are rising. Yet, despite the demand, public services continue to be cut and sold off. Those most in need are left to fend for themselves.
In this groundbreaking book, Emma Dowling charts the multifaceted 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. The Care Crisis examines the ways that profitability and care are played off against each other, exposing the impacts of financialisation and austerity. Dowling charts the current experiments in short-term solutions now taking place.
In a new afterword, she examines the care crisis through the lens of the Covid-19 pandemic, revealing the devastating consequences of a collision between an ongoing care crisis and the coronavirus.
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.
“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
“An important and insightful study … [The Care Crisis] succeeds in the delicate task of confronting the intricacies of a complex social problem in a manner that is lucid, accessible and forthright.” —Helen Hester, Resurgence & Ecologist
“Dowling is astute in her recognition that framing a social issue like care as a ‘crisis’ can be self-defeating, joining a ‘cacophony of crisis’ to which we are necessarily numbed.” —Emily Kenway, Red Pepper
“Accessible … The Care Crisis maps how austerity and deindustrialization, compounded by a fast-aging population, has led to a growing crisis of care.” —Teddy Ostrow, The Indypendent
“Accessible, rigorous, and thoughtful. [The Care Crisis] seamlessly weaves theory, statistics and on-the-ground experiences in order to generate a convincing analysis of how and why care has been devalued and increasingly exploited in contemporary Britain.” —Catherine Rottenberg, Sociological Review
“Compelling and well-researched … [The Care Crisis] renders visible an obvious correlation between the depletion of the welfare states since 2008 and the Western World’s inability to respond accordingly to the Covid-19 pandemic.” —Patricia Sequeira Brás, Modern Times Review
“The triumph of this book is the excellent overview of care work under capitalism … real care is fundamentally at odds with a system that cares about profit first and above all else—Emma Dowling has forensically delineated this truth in The Care Crisis.” —International Socialist