Care, gender and global social justice: Rethinking ‘ethical globalization’
This article develops an approach to ethical globalization based on a feminist, political ethic of care; this is achieved, in part, through a comparison with, and critique of, Thomas Pogge’s World Poverty and Human Rights. In his book, Pogge makes the valid and important argument that the global economic order is currently organized such that developed countries have a huge advantage in terms of power and expertise, and that decisions are reached purely and exclusively through self-interest. Pogge uses an institutional rights framework to argue that direct responsibility for global poverty and inequality lies with the citizens of developed countries, since suffering and death are caused by global economic arrangements designed and imposed by our governments. While this argument is certainly compelling, I have argued that it tells us little about the actual effects of globalization on the real people of the South—including women, children and the elderly. As a result, it can offer little in the way of real alternatives or policy prescriptions. As a moral orientation, a care ethic relies on a relational moral ontology, and leads us to consider different values in terms of human flourishing. Moreover, it pushes us to consider the normative implications of aspects of the global political economy which are usually not ‘seen’ at all, including the global distribution of care work and the corresponding patterns of gender and racial inequality, the underprovision of care and resources for caring work in both the developed and developing world, and the ways in which unpaid or low-paid caring work helps to sustain a cycle of exploitation and inequality on a global scale.