Care work may be connected with emotional and psychological exhaustion but also gratification, reward, and self-empowerment. Caregivers experience both positive and negative emotional states in caring situations, and further studies on the rewarding and energizing aspects of care may help us to broaden our understanding of how we can reduce the degree of burden while increasing the sense of satisfaction. This article shows how the focus on emotion is a necessary step to show the ambivalences and the grey areas connected with the concept of care as well as to challenge the not fully explored assumption that care is often associated with burden and stress and viewed as a result of circumstances. It reports the findings of a micro-situated study of daily care activities among 80 caregivers. Care is seen as a strategic site to grasp deeper insights into the interactional mechanisms through which the emotional dynamics revolving around care produce unanticipated outcomes in terms of symbolic and practical productivity.
Pratesi, Alessandro (Taylor and Francis, 2012-08-14)
Most of the scholarship and current literature on parental care focuses on its gendered costs and unbalances. Less attention is paid to the consequences of being excluded from this specific type of care—what we could call the right to parent. Gay and lesbian parents claiming their right to parent represents a momentous historical change: the increasing visibility of these parents is one of the most important components of such change. Emotional dynamics are key to this social change. Emotions constitute the link between doing parenting at the micro level of interactions and doing, or undoing, difference at the macro level of social structures; similarly, different ways to do parenting and to do gender must be taken into account if we want to grasp a truly comprehensive picture of the phenomenon of parenthood. This article draws on a wider study on different kinds of care and caregivers, whose aim is to offer a more inclusive interpretation and a more reliable discourse on family care and parenthood. Parenthood is still societally significant, but different ways to attain parenthood (biologically, through adoption, surrogacy, etc.) or to be a parent (single or in a couple, gay or heterosexual, married or unmarried, etc.) seem to mark a more important difference. While such difference can translate into inequality, this is now being challenged by these increasingly more visible parents. My findings show that the divide between the categories of “parents” and “nonparents” dissolves the divide between the categories of “gay/lesbian” and “non-gay/lesbian.” Gay and lesbian parents produce social change by taking the sexuality out of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) politics in the mainstream arena. Same-sex parenthood may still be perceived by many as a “scandal,” but more and more as a respectable one.
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