Flávia Biroli

Interview with Flávia Biroli, Institute of Political Science, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am a professor at the University of Brasília, Institute of Political Science, since 2005.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

My focus is on the social organization of care and its impact on women and democracy. Gender inequalities are connected to women`s poor access to fundamental resources, such as time and income. I am interested in developing theoretical analysis on care and democracy, empirically informed by Brazilian and Latin-American contexts.

I also develop empirical research on conservative reactions to gender and women’s rights in Brazil and Latin America, which have at least two fronts: direct attacks against “gender perspective” in Law and Public Policy; deconstruction of legal guarantees for work and the social security system. In both cases, the “defense of the family” has been key to conservative public discourse, while gendered aspects of work are not being considered and the effective possibilities for care and gender equality are being dismantled.
Poor and black women are the most affected. There is a racial component in the social organization of care in Brazil, thus the importance of intersectional approaches.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

My researches on gender, politics and democracy have been first focused on women’s under-representation in Brazilian institutional politics, in formal arenas of political representation. Developing empirical analysis about women and politics in Brazil from 2003, I started my dialogue with authors and approaches in Political Feminist Theories, focusing on social barriers for individual and collective autonomy. Issues concerning the voicing of women’s experiences and their social position, as well as the social organization of care, became inescapable in my analysis.

4. How would you describe care ethics?

A human and relational perspective on politics and everyday life, leading to alternative conceptions of justice within the frame of democratic critique. An alternative to the logic of commodification.[pullquote]Caring relationships are part of people’s daily lives and a factor generating inequalities in democracies.[/pullquote]

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

A theoretical and methodological perspective informed by women’s experiences and social position.

6. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

I will mention some of the authors from which I have learned and still learn: Carol Gilligan, Joan Tronto, Helena Hirata, Pascale Molinier, Patricia Hill-Collins. I agree and identify with care theories and approaches concerned about privileges and inequalities, focused on the connections between every day experiences, the social organization of care, and democracy.

7. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

I would highlight my books on feminist theory and autonomy, such as Autonomia e desigualdades de gênero (Eduff, 2013) and Feminismo e Política (Boitempo, 2014, with Luis Felipe Miguel), and on changes in family structure and organization in Brazil, Família: novos conceitos (Perseu Abramo, 2014). I would also mention two recent articles:  The Sexual Division of Labor and Democracy (2016) and another on care, justice, and democracy: Responsibilities, care and democracy (2015). Most of my work has been published in Portuguese.

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

The crisis of care and the contradictions between capitalism and care, as Nancy Fraser has put it in recent texts and interviews.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

Developing analysis of the significance of care in everyday life in different national and social contexts and the effects of different social organization patterns of care on people’s lives and democracy. Amplifying the understanding of care as social critique and social ethics, offering alternatives to the commodification of life.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central? Please describe.

Recent projects brought together Brazilian and French sociologists. In Brazil, University of São Paulo and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Estudos da Metrópole (INCT-CEM) organized an event on care and care workers in 2010, that produced a book. Later, a project on gender and work in Brazil and France also produced an event and a book has recently been published.

In Brazil, there are current researches on care in bioethics, psychology, collective health. President Dilma Rousseff was deposed. The area of Political Science in Brazil is poor in studies and reflections on care. As one of the editors of Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política from 2008 and 2016, I organized a thematic issue on Care in 2015, but it is still an exotic theme for political scientists in Brazil.

12. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

I wish the consortium could help us to build productive collaboration and develop theoretical and empirical researches facing the challenges for a politics of care (a caring democracy, to quote Joan Tronto), for a social ethics of care, in the actual stage of capitalism. Care and gender equality are being affected in different manners, in different parts of the world. I think comparative research and collective efforts to develop theories well informed by diverse experiences and social data are more than welcome and necessary.

Eleonor Faur

Interview with Eleonor Faur, IDAES-National University of San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am a Professor at the Institute for Higher Studies on Social Sciences, National University of San Martín. Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I teach graduated courses on Gender and Care Policies, and on Gender Relations and Welfare in Latin America.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

My PhD focused on Childcare Policies and Gender Inequalities in Argentina. In addition, I participated in a Global UNRISD Project called “The Political and Social Economy of Care”, and I developed some qualitative, quantitative and institutional research on care relations, gender and social inequalities. The key argument I developed was that Argentina’s social policies themselves are reproducing gender inequalities (assigning the care workload mainly to women) and class inequalities among families (by making different kinds, and qualities, of care services available targeted at different social groups, instead of promoting genuinely ‘equal rights’ for all of them) (Faur, 2009, 2011, 2014).
For this reason, I refer to these arrangements in terms of a political and social organization of care, one which is constantly developing through the interventions of public and private offerings, and which has different shapes and outcomes across social class.

Although I did not explicitly analyze care and social policies arrangements from a `care ethics approach`, my interest on how much inequality are societies capable to support deserves further exploration from an ethical perspective, which I shall be doing in the future.

Lastly, I began to think about grass-root women’s activism in response to gender violence and feminicides as a development of a “popular care ethics”. That is, an ethics that is constructed through collective action in the public sphere, recreating feminist practice as a way to take care of the youngest and their rights. (See Revista Anfibia).

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I got involved in care ethics due to my work on gender and human rights issues.

3. How would you describe care ethics?

Care ethics is about interdependency and empathy as dispositions to giving and receiving attention, affection, and support. It is also about getting basic need satisfied. Care ethics may be considered also as a paradigm shift in the study of welfare.

4. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

The most important think I learned from care ethics was to shape a philosophical approach to analyze daily social relations and public policies, from a human dimension.

5. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

My closer teachers were Elizabeth Jelin, Rosalía Cortés and Shahra Razavi. My colleagues Luz Gabriela Arango and Valeria Esquivel. And many authors that I read.

6. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries and Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, are the most important to me, as a breakthrough in this concept.

7. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

  • My book: El cuidado infantil en el siglo XXI. Mujeres malabaristas en una sociedad desigual. (2014(Childcare in 21st.Century. Juggler Women in an Inequal Society.)
  • My article “A Widening Gap? The Political and Social Economy of Care”, in Development & Change (2011).

8. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

First, it shall be important to reinforce the analysis on national and socioeconomical contexts in care relations, maybe through the development of comparative studies. Second, to identify how care develops in different scales and spheres. Third, to legitimize as a special “lens” to analyze, design and evaluate public policies.

9. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

I think that care ethics may contribute in at least three ways. On the one hand, it is key to reinforce social bond and empathy on an equality basis. On the other, it could be considered as a lens to the design of public policies and thus contribute to reach the poorest population. Lastly, it may contribute by making economy sustainable. All of them are key to produce and maintain welfare.

10. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central? Please describe.

In Latin America, Uruguay has developed a National Integrated System on Care, which is considered as a pillar of social protection. Chile and Colombia are also working on this direction. Local communities in Argentina are more and more interested in care issues and developing programmes aimed to child and aging population care services, which are dramatically insufficient for the time being.

11. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

I hope we can come out with an agenda for this consortium, that includes interregional research collaborations and projects to expand this approach internationally.

Call for Papers: Societas Ethica’s Annual Conference

Call for Papers: Feminist Ethics and the Question of Gender
Societas Ethica’s 55th Annual Conference, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium — 23-26 August 2018

Why should feminist ethics and gender be a central focus in the work of philosophical and theological ethics? While this question has been discussed within the fields of feminist and gender theory, philosophers and theologians have often overlooked the category of gender in their work.

Is feminist ethics a distinct ethical theory, or rather a category of inquiry in any approach to ethics? How does the feminist perspective enrich our ability to address such subjects as power, social, cultural, and political participation, poverty, racism, misogyny, homo/transphobia, economic inequality, and healthcare? And how does this lens sharpen the reinterpretation of
normative understandings of moral, ethical, and religious traditions? To what degree is the rise of nationalism connected with normative imageries of masculinity and femininity, which now require ethical interrogation, especially against the backdrop of social disintegration?

At our conference, we want to strike a balance between theoretical inquiries and historical or contemporary case studies.
We welcome contributions from philosophical, theological, and applied ethics, as well as from political and social theory, history, psychology, and the sciences. The conference languages will be English, French and German. The deadline for submitting proposals is 03 April 2018.


Proposals may be submitted for concurrent sessions addressing the following areas:

  • Feminist ethics, gender, and the traditions of ethics
  • Gender roles, gender identity, and gender justice
  • Concepts of autonomy and care
  • Concepts of masculinity, femininity, and gender fluidity
  • Gendered representations of the Divine
  • Embodiment and gender
  • Nature and freedom in relation to gender
  • The pandemic of sexual violence
  • Responses to sexual violence, such as #MeToo
  • Poverty, racism, structural injustice
  • Faces of misogyny and homo/transphobia
  • Sexual difference and “gender ideology”
  • Political, economic and healthcare inequalities
  • Aging and ageism
  • Nationalism and populism in relation to gender

Paper proposals should contain no more than 800 words (excluding bibliography), and clearly present a moral question or argument addressing one of the aforementioned topics. The deadline is 03 April 2018.

Please send in the following two documents as Word attachments to Dr. Silas Morgan at smorgan2@luc.edu, using the subject line “Societas Ethica 2018 Conference.”

  • Document 1: Your name, first name, email address, institutional address, the title of your abstract, the topic under which your paper proposal falls, and, if eligible, your application to participate in the Young Scholars’ Award competition.
  • Document 2: Your paper proposal including bibliography (max. 10 references), keywords and title with all identifying references removed. Please use Times New Roman 12 pt for body, references and keywords, and Ariel (bold) 16 pt for headline.

The abstract of the conference papers will be published in the conference proceedings.
Selected papers (voluntary) will be published in a special issue of the journal De Ethica; A Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics.

Societas Ethica Young Scholars’ Award is awarded to the best presentation by a young scholar. Young scholars for the purpose of this competition are doctoral students and researchers who earned their degree less than two years ago and do not have a tenure-track academic position. For more information about Societas Ethica Young Scholars’ Award, please visit the website at

Societas Ethica – the European Society for Research in Ethics – has more than 270 members from approximately 35 countries. Led by the current president Dr. Hille Haker (Loyola University Chicago), Societas Ethica endeavors to stimulate contacts between scholars in different countries, surpassing political, ideological and religious curtains. We welcome papers from non-members and members.