Interview with Eleonor Faur, IDAES-National University of San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1. Where are you working at this moment?
I am a Professor at the Institute for Higher Studies on Social Sciences, National University of San Martín. Buenos Aires, Argentina. I teach graduated courses on Gender and Care Policies, and on Gender Relations and Welfare in Latin America.
My PhD focused on Childcare Policies and Gender Inequalities in Argentina. In addition, I participated in a Global UNRISD Project called “The Political and Social Economy of Care”, and I developed some qualitative, quantitative and institutional research on care relations, gender and social inequalities.
The key argument I developed was that Argentina’s social policies themselves are reproducing gender inequalities (assigning the care workload mainly to women) and class inequalities among families (by making different kinds, and qualities, of care services available targeted at different social groups, instead of promoting genuinely ‘equal rights’ for all of them) (Faur, 2009, 2011, 2014).
For this reason, I refer to these arrangements in terms of a political and social organization of care, one which is constantly developing through the interventions of public and private offerings, and which has different shapes and outcomes across social class.
Although I did not explicitly analyze care and social policies arrangements from a `care ethics approach`, my interest on how much inequality are societies capable to support deserves further exploration from an ethical perspective, which I shall be doing in the future.
Lastly, I began to think about grass-root women’s activism in response to gender violence and feminicides as a development of a “popular care ethics”. That is, an ethics that is constructed through collective action in the public sphere, recreating feminist practice as a way to take care of the youngest and their rights. (See Revista Anfibia).
I got involved in care ethics due to my work on gender and human rights issues.
Care ethics is about interdependency and empathy as dispositions to giving and receiving attention, affection, and support. It is also about getting basic need satisfied. Care ethics may be considered also as a paradigm shift in the study of welfare.
The most important think I learned from care ethics was to shape a philosophical approach to analyze daily social relations and public policies, from a human dimension.
My closer teachers were Elizabeth Jelin, Rosalía Cortés and Shahra Razavi. My colleagues Luz Gabriela Arango and Valeria Esquivel. And many authors that I read.
Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries and Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, are the most important to me, as a breakthrough in this concept.
First, it shall be important to reinforce the analysis on national and socioeconomical contexts in care relations, maybe through the development of comparative studies. Second, to identify how care develops in different scales and spheres. Third, to legitimize as a special “lens” to analyze, design and evaluate public policies.
I think that care ethics may contribute in at least three ways. On the one hand, it is key to reinforce social bond and empathy on an equality basis. On the other, it could be considered as a lens to the design of public policies and thus contribute to reach the poorest population. Lastly, it may contribute by making economy sustainable. All of them are key to produce and maintain welfare.
In Latin America, Uruguay has developed a National Integrated System on Care, which is considered as a pillar of social protection. Chile and Colombia are also working on this direction. Local communities in Argentina are more and more interested in care issues and developing programmes aimed to child and aging population care services, which are dramatically insufficient for the time being.
I hope we can come out with an agenda for this consortium, that includes interregional research collaborations and projects to expand this approach internationally.
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