An Old Map of State feminism and an insufficient Recognition of Care

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Feminists have documented that care suffers from insufficient valorization due to its associations with the private and feminine. Traditionally, they have argued that its recognition should be achieved by the state and/or through the professionalizing of care. When considering state organized elderly care in one of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, these strategies seem inadequate. This is a fundamental problem for feminist theory inspired by Helga Hernes' concept of a potentially women friendly welfare state (1987). This article shows that the misrecognition of care and care giving workers/care professionals is still taking place, and argues that neither making care a state responsibility nor professionalisation is sufficient to solve the problem of recognition. Additional strategies, such as caring for the carer and degendering care, are needed. This would update Hernes approach and provide her with a new map showing the changed landscape in which there are different obstacles and through which we need to navigate. A thick description of a feminist Nirvana is not provided here, but instead useful reflections on the recognition of care as engineered by state feminism in a European context are presented. The article combines feminist understandings of care, the state and recognition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNora: Nordic Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)152-166
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Recognition
  • Care
  • state feminism
  • professionalisation

Cite this