The Abstraction of Care: What Work Counts?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nurses provide essential health care labor, but their work, a mix of caregiving and clinical expertise, is often undervalued and unacknowledged by health care administrators and the policies and practices that govern health care more broadly. Based on interviews with nurses working in the New York metropolitan area and through pairing feminist political economy with literature on abstraction and politics of the possible, I show that the ways in which nurses’ work is measured creates a value hierarchy of tasks. Examining various tools of measurement, I argue that methods for measuring work are rooted in an historical and continuous hierarchy of what counts as work and what has value. For nurses, these processes obscure the essential care work they perform. I argue that bringing an explicit politics of social reproduction to the politics of measuring and accounting for work makes visible necessary and often-obscured tasks, spaces, and social relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-358
Issue number2
Early online date25 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Abstraction
  • Labour
  • Health
  • Social Reproduction
  • Vaule
  • Feminist Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'The Abstraction of Care: What Work Counts?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this