Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America

Evelyn Nakano Glenn | Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women's Studies

Evelyn Nakano Glenn offers an innovative interpretation of care labor in the United States by tracing the roots of inequity along two interconnected strands: unpaid caring within the family; and slavery, indenture, and other forms of coerced labor. By bringing both into the same analytic framework, she provides a convincing explanation of the devaluation of care work and the exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from critical rights such as minimum wage, retirement benefits, and workers’ compensation. Glenn reveals how assumptions about gender, family, home, civilization, and citizenship have shaped the development of care labor and been incorporated into law and social policies. She exposes the underlying systems of control that have resulted in women—especially immigrants and women of color—performing a disproportionate share of caring labor. Finally, she examines strategies for improving the situation of unpaid family caregivers and paid home healthcare workers.