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Who's the Boss? The Political Economy of Unpaid Care Work and Food Sharing in Brooklyn, USA


  • Tamara Mose Brown


Over the last two decades, scholars have situated paid and unpaid care work as an important component in the US economic infrastructure. Until recently, scholars have neglected to address the sociological significance of the cooking and sharing of food (“foodways”) as part of the productive unpaid work of caregivers. This article details the lives of West Indian childcare providers in Brooklyn, New York and places their experiences in the context of economic structures. The study shows how childcare providers share food with their charges to establish forms of control and resist the subordination inherent in childcare work. By studying the unpaid care work of food sharing through participant observation and interviews during 2004--7, this research reveals blurred boundaries between reproductive and productive work. It also analyzes how childcare providers resist and momentarily invert the hierarchy of employer households, shaping their workdays beyond the responsibilities of taking care of children.

Suggested Citation

  • Tamara Mose Brown, 2012. "Who's the Boss? The Political Economy of Unpaid Care Work and Food Sharing in Brooklyn, USA," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 1-24, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:18:y:2012:i:3:p:1-24
    DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2012.704148

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