The social division of care

Michael Fine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia, as in most developed economies, care has now 'gone public'. It is no longer solely a private, familial concern that can be automatically assigned to women to be undertaken without pay. Nor is it contained in residential institutions or bureaucratic hierarchies. In this paper I consider what is emerging in its place - the 'care deficit' and the new social divisions of care, in which paid care is assuming an ever more important place as a result of significant developments in both social policy and in market-based provisions, especially the expansion of corporate care. Linking recent care theory with the need for a program of empirical research, the paper first considers the lack of consensus on the character and meaning of care, as seen from a number of different theoretical standpoints. Despite important differences in the perspectives on care, common features suggest that there are sound reasons to develop research concepts and tools that would help create the dialogue and sharing of ideas that a more mature field of research and practice requires. A starting point for this is the attempt to demark a clear definition of care. Building on this, I propose the development and use of a broad perspective, which I have termed the social division of care, to provide a joint framework for data collection and for monitoring the changing balances of responsibility for providing care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-149
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Ageing
  • Care
  • Social


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