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A Fourth Subject Position of Care




Analyses of care work typically speak of three necessary roles of care: the care worker, the care recipient, and an economic provider who makes care materially possible. This model provides no place for addressing the difficult political questions care poses for liberal representative democracy. I propose to fill this space with a new caring role to connect the care unit to the political sphere, as the economic provider connects the care unit to the economic sphere. I call this role that of the “care claimant.” The labor of claiming care consists in the development, expression, and advancement of the interests of the care unit. The argument for employing this fourth care role begins by comparing Nel Noddings's phenomenological care unit to Sara Ruddick's family-based analysis. It then moves to discuss the way Eva Kittay emphasizes the dependency of the charge and its political ramifications to illustrate the need for a care claimant. After distinguishing the care claimant from the other roles of care, I examine the power relationships in the care unit and the position of the care claimant in the public sphere.