Alyssa Battistoni: “Climate Futures and the Future of Work: Rethinking “Green Jobs,” Revaluing Care Work”


Abstract: This paper considers possible futures of work in relation to the climate crisis. In response to a perceived conflict between the demands of decarbonization and the livelihoods of workers, particularly in fossil fuel and other extractive sectors, “green jobs” have become the rallying cry of climate activists—and, increasingly, of politicians. (Take Joe Biden’s line: “when I think climate change, I think jobs.”) Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has drawn new attention to the importance of care work—both in the guise of the “essential work” of health care workers and the unwaged work done, particularly by women, within the home. This paper brings these two discourses on work together, drawing on socialist feminist thought to make the case for seeing care work as a form of “green job.” It then considers the political implications of this view, focusing on the challenges to valuing this kind of work under capitalism and the racial and gender disparities which structure the politics of care.

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Event series: Colloquia, Fall 2021 Colloquium