Just Reproduction, Production and Consumption

Encourage Care Activities

What's the problem?

  • Activities aimed at the health and well-being of people, which promote and educate people and serve the everyday reproduction of life and work ability and which thus keep a society alive and make a good life possible for everyone, receive too little recognition (child care/education, care of the elderly and sick, taking care of oneself, cleaning...)
  • paid → care work is subject to competitive pressure. For this reason, their financing is under high cost pressure (e.g. health insurance) or is often not covered by the state (e.g. nursing care insurance). As a result, it is often poorly paid and takes place under high work pressure. In addition, many care areas are becoming a field of private investment; care is thus increasingly the object of return on investments.
  • the conditions of wage/gainful employment (extent of gainful employment, forced flexibility in the sense of the company, psychological and physical burden) often prevent people from being able to devote themselves sufficiently to care activities in the family and social environment
  • unpaid care work rests mainly on the shoulders of women.
  • Care employees and in particular unpaid care work performers and those dependend on care services have hardly any influence on the general conditions and the processes of care work.
  • Overall, there is a complete imbalance in the evaluation of activities relevant to the community, the purely economic profit-oriented view on the value of individuals, leads to degradation, deprivation and segregation of many groups of people (the elderly, people with disabilities)
  • There is a tendency (or economic pressure) for women in the global North to spend more hours in paid work and less to take on care work in their own families, which leads to global 'care chains' instead of an equal distribution of activities among all members (genders) of society: non-German, often non-white women take on care work (often not insured etc, extremely poorly paid) and hand over responsibility for their own families to other female members of the family/neighbourhood
  • The imminent technisation in the care activities' area (e.g. use of robots in care) is highly problematic: it leads to a progressive (social) devaluation of the activities and to further precarisation (wage dumping by machine competition, increasing threat to the jobs themselves); in addition, it signals that care and nursing would have to be detached from emotional care and empathy, i.e. it was literally a purely mechanical process: Increasing isolation and loneliness from people in need of care and → exclusion of vulnerable groups from the community and from contact with fellow human beings

What's the measure?

Care activities, both paid and unpaid, must be recognised in their importance. They must be financially and infrastructurally secured and supported. Their commodification is to be suppressed; instead, self-administration of the facilities in the care sector by the people in care relationships is to be striven for.

How can the implementation look like?

  • Profit-oriented companies should be excluded from the areas of care work.
  • In all facilities, including those run by "free non-profit" institutions (e.g. Caritas, ASB, DRK), extensive co-determination of all persons involved in the care relationship (employees, patients, relatives,...) must be implemented.
  • In the overall care sector, which is to be expanded in line with needs and requirements, the focus should be on democratically organised municipal enterprises and → commons (polyclinic, daycare, neighbourhood shop, ...).
  • This also means the expansion of a public social infrastructure that, together with its providing services, can be used free of charge.
  • Furthermore, it is important to reduce the workload and increase the hourly wages of those working in these facilities, also to make these jobs more attractive.
  • This in turn is a precondition to cover the additional demand for labour without falling back on the global wage gap and global care chains. In terms of financing, the introduction of a citizens' insurance scheme that eliminates the division between private and statutory health insurance is an obvious option. To finance it, all types of income should be taken into account without capping the contributions upwards. The purpose of this citizens' insurance is to ensure the health and care of all people.
  • Ensuring extensive opportunities to participate for all people with disabilities should be a matter of course.
  • Of course, it is not a matter of covering all care needs within institutions by care workers. Need-based care relationships also require the involvement of friendship and neighbourly networks. However, the people who care for each other in these networks need time and resources themselves. For this reason, the introduction of a basic and maximum income and a radical reduction in working hours are decisive preconditions for enabling the necessary care activities and ensuring their gender-equitable distribution and the adequate satisfaction of care needs.

How can climate change be counteracted and how can economic conditions be created that support effective climate protection measures?

CO2 emissions are much lower in the service sector, especially in care services, than in the production of goods. The more the satisfaction of needs is focused on caring for each other, the more the production of goods can be limited. This is because at least many consumer goods serve to confirm one's own status and are needed as a consequence of an individualised lifestyle. By caring for one another, these are goals can be achieved more directly and in a more climate-friendly way. To this extent, the expansion of the care sector is a central element of a globally generalizable lifestyle.

How quickly can the measure be implemented?

It can be started at any time. The prerequisites for a lifestyle, oriented towards the needs of care workers* and those in need of care, can partly already be created within the frameworks of the capitalist society and serve as entry projects into a solidary society, whose economic actions are directly oriented towards the satisfaction of human needs (→ capitalism).

How long does it take for the measure to take effect?

If provided, that the expansion of the care sectors and their democratisation leads to reduced production and transportation of goods, as expected, this measure will have an immediate positive effect. Since care work is organized on a smaller scale, in the district or in the neighborhood, to a greater extent than the production of things, traffic will also decrease due to the physical separation of residence and business premises. Every significant step, taken to improve the conditions for good care work, paid and unpaid, will have an immediate effect.

References to other measures

A good care work, whether paid or unpaid, has many prerequisites and connections to other measures: The expansion and democratisation of public social infrastructure requires an extension of democratic processes towards self-administration: notions of representative democracy are practically questioned. Individual security is provided to a greater extent by collective provision and by incomes independent of gainful employment; the gap between rich and poor is narrowing. Examples are the rising employment income of those working in care institutions, the introduction of a citizens' insurance, in order to protect the health and care needs of all people, the introduction of a basic and maximum income and a radical reduction of working hours.

Further literature, sources

Netzwerk Grundeinkommen (2018): Care-Revolutionieren mit Grundeinkommen?

Appel, Margit / Gubitzer, Luise / Wohlgenannt, Lieselotte (2013): Primär mehr – an Geschlechtergerechtigkeit, Freiheit und Ressourcenschonung, in: Ronald Blaschke / Werner Rätz (Hg.), Teil der Lösung. Plädoyer für ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen, Zürich: Rotpunktverlag, S. 99-114.

Appel, Margit (2016): Bedingungslosigkeit politisieren, in: Ronald Blaschke / Ina Praetorius / Antje Schrupp (Hg.), Das Bedingungslose Grundeinkommen. Feministische und postpatriarchale Perspektiven, Sulzbach am Taunus: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, S. 46-62.

Adelheid Biesecker et al. (1997):

Blaschke, Ronald (2014): Grundeinkommen und Carearbeit, in: Arbeit am Leben – Care-Bewegung und Care-Politiken, Widersprüche. Zeitschrift für sozialistische Politik im Bildungs-, Gesundheits- und Sozialbereich, Nr. 134, S. 113-127

Blaschke, Ronald / Ina Praetorius / Antje Schrupp (Hg.) (2016): Das Bedingungslose Grundeinkommen. Feministische und postpatriarchale Perspektiven, Sulzbach am Taunus: Ulrike Helmer Verlag.

Fischer, Ute (2015): Fürsorge als gesellschaftliche Aufgabe denken. Das Konzept Grundeinkommen als Grundlage veränderter Care-Strukturen? in: Sozial Extra, Heft 1/2015, S. 40-43.

Fried, Barbara/Schurian, Hanna (2016): „Nicht im Gleichschritt, aber Hand in Hand“. In: Luxemburg 1/2016, S. 96– 107.

Habermann, Friederike (2016): Ecommony. UmCare zum Miteinander. Konzepte/Ma­terialien, Band 9. Sulzbach am Taunus: Ulrike Helmer.

IG BAU (2017): Vom Recht auf Erwerbsarbeit zum Recht auf Existenz. 10 Fragen zum Bedingungslosen Grundeinkommen, Frankfurt am Main,

Netzwerk Vorsorgendes Wirtschaften,

Neumann, Matthias; Winker, Gabriele (2017): Care Revolution: Ressourcen für Sorgearbeit erkämpfen. In: Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie; DFG-Kolleg Postwachstumsgesellschaftem (Hg): Degrowth in Bewegung(en). 32 alternative Wege zur sozial-ökologischen Transformation. München:oekom, 84-95.

Praetorius, Ina: Wirtschaft ist Care. Oder: Die Wiederentdeckung des Selbstverständlichen (2015): Berlin: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Praetorius, Ina (2016): Nach der Schweizer Volksabstimmung: Das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen als care-ökonomisches Projekt, in: Herwig Büchele / Lieselotte Wohlgenannt, Grundeinkommen ohne Arbeit. Auf dem Weg zu einer kommunikativen Gesellschaft (Hg. Katholische Sozialakademie Österreichs), Wien: ÖGB Verlag, S. XXI-XXVIII.

Schrupp, Antje (2013): Erkennen, was notwendig ist, in: Ronald Blaschke / Werner Rätz (Hg.), Teil der Lösung. Plädoyer für ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen, Zürich: Rotpunktverlag, S. 83-97.

Schurian, Hannah (2017): Das bisschen Pflege. Was falsch läuft und wie es anders gehen könnte. Berlin: Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

Winker, Gabriele (2015): Care-Revolution. Schritte in eine solidarische Gesellschaft, Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

Winker, Gabriele (2016): Leben ohne existenzielle Not. Mit einer feministischen Care-Perspektive für das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen, in: Ronald Blaschke / Ina Praetorius / Antje Schrupp (Hg.), Das Bedingungslose Grundeinkommen. Feministische und postpatriarchale Perspektiven, Sulzbach am Taunus: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, S. 12-30.

Zeitschrift antidotincl, Heft Nr. 24 (2016): Mit Care-Kraft zur → Energiewende. Frauen für das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen,