The Value of Love: Global Perspectives on the Economy of Care (2019-2020)


Care labor, or the work of providing care for others, is ascribed value in many ways, whether in uncommodified forms such as motherhood and community service, semicommodified forms such as informal labor and servitude or hypercommodified forms such as the emergent platform of gig economies. Amid this diversity, care – or “love” – labor remains structurally undervalued in economies. Despite many decades of data collection, research and writing about this critical issue, debates remain fixed within paradigms of commodification either through the private sector or state-run welfare programs.

New research, critical thinking and idea exchange across political and social boundaries are critical to interrogate some of the assumptions that have kept this debate so static. Through this work, it will be possible to explore the ways in which care economy models – with their reconsideration of values such as efficiency and productivity – have implications for research and policymaking around a broad array of issues such as environmental sustainability, education and healthcare.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project offers an opportunity to join the launch stage of an international, interdisciplinary collaboration reconsidering how we value “care” in various forms – including not only household and dependent care but also ecological, cultural and social care.

The team will focus on three research areas:

  1. Metrics (i.e., how we measure care and its value)
  2. Governance (i.e., what laws and policies currently exist to ascribe value to care)
  3. Social practices (e.g., alternative household and kin formations, social movements oriented toward care and care within social organizations). 

By bringing together a diverse group of scholars working from different disciplines and locations, this project will explore ways that knowledge produced from the global South – where informal and subsistence labor occupy more economic space – offers possibilities for reimagining economies to place a higher value on care labors.

Working with Duke Learning Innovation, the project will include an online component that will allow students to connect with network members around the world to collaborate on new research and writing. A principal objective of this team will be to create a public-facing resource of analysis, data sets and white papers that might be of use to policymakers and civil-society leaders interested in this topic.

Anticipated Outputs

Public-facing care economy resource and repository for scholarly papers, datasets and white papers for use by researchers, policymakers and civil-society activists; external grant proposals


Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Fall 2019: Launch website; finalize research subteams; research prospectus due for each subteam
  • Spring 2020: Work with research teams and network members to develop datasets, research papers and white papers; conference with network partners to present research


Image by Sabinevanerp, CC0 Creative Commons

Image by Sabinevanerp.

Team Leaders

  • Ingrid Meintjes, Arts & Sciences-Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
  • Jocelyn Olcott, Arts & Sciences-History
  • Riikka Prattes, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

/graduate Team Members

  • Samia Akhter-Khan
  • Kaitlyn Daly, Nursing-PHD
  • Meral Kaufmann

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Simon Brown
  • Shelsea Duran
  • Avery Edward
  • Ye Han
  • Patrick Hong, Religion (AB)
  • Amanda Kang
  • Meghna Mahadevan, Economics (BS), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
  • Anna Markey
  • Kedest Mathewos, Economics (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • Anh-Huy Nguyen
  • Brian Njoroge, Public Policy Studies (AB), Int Comparative Studies (AB2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Anne Allison, Arts & Sciences-Cultural Anthropology
  • Michaeline Crichlow, Arts & Sciences-African and African American Studies
  • Kathi Weeks, Arts & Sciences-Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
  • Ara Wilson, Arts & Sciences-Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Rene Almeling, Yale University
  • Marija Bartl, University of Amsterdam
  • Gunseli Berik, University of Utah
  • Eloisa Betti, University of Bologna
  • Arturo Escobar, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Elena Gerasimova, National Research University of Moscow
  • Alicia Giron Gonzalez, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  • Richard Itaman, King's College London
  • Samuel Jube, Institut d'Etudes Avancees-Nantes
  • Antonio de Almeida Mendes, University of Nantes
  • Pedro Gravata Nicoli, Federal University of Minas Gerais
  • Sujatha Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
  • Encarnacion Gutierrez Rodriguez, Justus Liebig Universitat Giessen
  • Supriya Routh, University of Victoria
  • Mahua Sarkar, University of Binghamton
  • Felwine Sarr, Gaston Berger University, Senegal
  • Samita Sen, Cambridge University
  • Gerardo Serra, University of Manchester
  • Lakshmi Subramanian, Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
  • Abigail Warchol, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill