The Moral Economy of the Care Labor
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Many thinkers have tried to justify or to oppose what appears to be the "universal" status of women. Some tried to understand it by distinguishing the public and the private spheres, some did it by studying the psychology, some by using power politics, some by differentiating the "nature and culture" aspect of gender roles, and others by studying the economics of our society. In spite of useful insights and significances these attempts offer us, most of these models fail to recognize that women, too, are rational beings who are capable of making decisions for themselves, regarding the gender roles, and also fail to realize the significant role non-economic factors play in one's decision making. Besides, the complexity of today's society does not allow us to generalize any circumstances; everyone's situation is different, and multiple factors can play important roles in one's thought process. The lines within each model and among the different models are blurry. It is time to acquire a new attitude, which respects the new and more flexible dynamics of gender roles. This paper will review some of the related literature on the different models as well as interviews with working or stay-at-home mothers and fathers. We must allow diversity in the discussion of gender roles and note both the economic and non-economic aspects that drive men and women to decide to participate in the care work, rather than trying to fit the big picture into one specific, conventional framework.