Care Work as the Work of the Future

Across the world there is much gloom and doom about the impact of technological changes on jobs, as automation and other innovations are seen to threaten not just blue-collar jobs but also many forms of office work. It is true that the way that most of our economies are organised at present, heavily reliant on market mechanisms with less and less public intervention to alleviate the adverse effects, there could well be an increase in technology- driven unemployment.

But even so, some of the extreme pessimism may be misplaced because of the possible emergence of other forms of employment that are more based on human interaction. Particularly, some essential services that enhance the quality of life – which are often broadly clubbed into the composite term “the care economy” – are unlikely to be either as efficient or as socially useful if the element of human interaction is reduced.

Many care services necessarily require face to face relationships, and even if technologies can assist in these and make them more productive, the human element cannot be eliminated. Indeed, better quality care (whether in paid or unpaid forms) typically requires more intensive human input, so standard approaches based on puerile notions of labour productivity are simply irrelevant in such activities.

– naked capitalism

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