Jessica Bowen

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Elisabeth Gedge




Eva Feder Kittay's work Love's Labor demonstrates how John Rawls' A Theory of Justice makes certain assumptions about the citizen who is included in the fair terms of agreement necessary for social cooperation. As a result, Rawls' theory excludes dependency concerns altogether. Kittay amends Rawl's theory to argue for providing compensation for dependency work. Though Kittay's proposal is intended to degender and redistribute the work, because she does not include a standard of gender equity, her compensation system risks reinforcing the sexual division of labor. By introducing Nancy Fraser's complex conception of gender equity into the analysis of any compensation system, it is possible to illustrate that what is needed to achieve more equitable circumstances is to increase men's participation rates as providers of care. In order to gain men's participation, theorists often look to the Nordic countries as their combination of social policies assumes that citizens have responsibilities as both workers and as caregivers, thus their policies facilitate the participation of all members of society in both the public and private realms. Though the structure of policies in the Nordic countries are more progressive, there is still a gendered gap in earnings, more women remain in parttime employment and women still take the majority of the parental leave. While Nordic countries have made gains towards gender equity, social policies can make social institutions more equitable but this is only a partial solution. I argue that in addition to social policies, we also need to change the ways in which gender is recognized and how gendered recognition norms can be highly influential enabling individuals to enter into and occupy particular roles more easily than others. When certain roles are easier for individuals to occupy it raises questions about how unconstrained the choice to enter into dependency work is.

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