I'm professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. the University of Minnesota. I’ve been writing about care ethics for about thirty years. My current research involves thinking about care from a global perspective.
As a feminist scholar, I kept thinking about the political cost if women decided that they should join “the mainstream of American society” in “equal partnership with men” (as the National Organization for Women’s founding document put it). What would we lose as a society if middle-class women became just like middle-class men?
I began talking to my students about my “feminist nightmare” when women, no longer constrained by the caste barriers that had kept them out of some occupations and professions, passed the caring work in society over to poorer women and men and people of color. So I was paying attention to care as work.
On a more philosophical level, and I am trained as a political theorist, I was part of a feminist faculty development seminar at Hunter College in 1983. When we read Carol Gilligan’s just-published book, In a Different Voice, I was struck that the care-justice distinction there seemed parallel to a different philosophical moment. I was struck by the similarity between this difference and the one between Scottish Enlightenment philosophies and Kantian ethics. This parallel led me to think more systematically about care, as Gilligan and others were describing it, and non-Kantian models of ethics.
Joan Tronto is one of care ethics’ pioneers and an internationally recognized political theorist.