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Making Care Count

A Century of Gender, Race, and Paid Care Work
Mignon Duffy
204 pages, 6 x 9
Cloth, February 2011 $76.00   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, February 2011 $28.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Paper, March 2011 $28.95   ADD TO CART
epub, February 2011 $28.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Subject Area:
Gender Studies, Sociology, Labor Studies


There are fundamental tasks common to every society: children have to be raised, homes need to be cleaned, meals need to be prepared, and people who are elderly, ill, or disabled need care. Day in, day out, these responsibilities can involve both monotonous drudgery and untold rewards for those performing them, whether they are family members, friends, or paid workers. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced, because they involve the most intimate spaces of our everyday lives--our homes, our bodies, and our families.

Mignon Duffy uses a historical and comparative approach to examine and critique the entire twentieth-century history of paid care work--including health care, education and child care, and social services--drawing on an in-depth analysis of U.S. Census data as well as a range of occupational histories. Making Care Count focuses on change and continuity in the social organization along with cultural construction of the labor of care and its relationship to gender, racial-ethnic, and class inequalities. Debunking popular understandings of how we came to be in a "care crisis," this book stands apart as an historical quantitative study in a literature crowded with contemporary, qualitative studies, proposing well-developed policy approaches that grow out of the theoretical and empirical arguments.


"Duffy brings careworkers to the foreground through detailed analyses of census and other data from 1900 to 2007. Her extensive use of scholarship on careworkers' functions and others' attitudes toward them adeptly provides historical and social explanations for the numbers. A valuable, informative, historical overview of an important issue. Recommended."

"Duffy offers a sweeping history of paid care work, from the hired girls of the pre-industrial period through nannies, maids, and home care workers, to today's doctors, teachers, and nurses.
—Women's Review of Books

"At last, a great 'big picture' book on paid care! Based on census data, Mignon Duffy traces the mid-century rise in nurturant care-teachers, nurses, social workers, childcare workers, and others. She shows how despite-and partly due to-the women's movement, such jobs became ever more feminized. Along with that, she also traces abiding patterns of race and ethnicity. All told, Duffy gives us a fascinating read and a new basic text."
—Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift and The Commercialization of Intimate Life

"Duffy's work provides a valuable framework for understanding the organization of care work over time and its connection to larger patterns of inequality."
—Julia Wrigley, Graduate Center of the City University of New York

"This book provides a brilliant and beautiful account of the ways in which social inequalities have fractured care provision in the United States."
—Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"Mignon Duffy has written a pathbreaking and foundational work in the study of the place of care in American society. Making Care Count provides the most detailed and most nuanced account to date about how care work has been performed in the United States over the
past century. Duffy debunks several leading care narratives and offers a more complex view of caring and its relationship to class, racial-ethnic categories, and gender. The book is thus important both for its empirical analysis and its conceptual challenges to existing ways to think about care."
—American Journal of Sociology

"Making Care Count packs a lot of data and analysis into a concise form. It is a great volume for feminist scholars and activists that want to contribute to social change through academic work. It challenges us to rally around the emotional and relational aspects of care work as essential at a time when austerity and cost-cutting put them at risk."
—Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

Author / Editor Bio

Mignon Duffy is an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty associate of the Center for Women and Work at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.


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