Political Significance Relations of love, care, and solidarity matter not only for what they can produce personally, and in communities or societies, but also for what they might generate politically in terms of heralding different ways of relating beyond separatedness, competition and aggrandizement. In many respects care is a kind of ‘cultural residual’, an area of human life, experience, and achievement, that the dominant culture neglects, represses and cannot even recognise for its political salience (Williams 1977: 123-4). But affective care relations are active in the sub-altern world of daily life; they are the relations wherein people co-produce each other as human beings and of which they are acutely conscious (Crean 2018). Although affective relations operate without political ‘citizenship’, lacking a political name and a political voice, like other cultural residuals however, they can and do influence current cultural processes (Williams 1977: 122). It is for this reason that they should be claimed, named, and made visible intellectually and politically.
Lynch, Kathleen, Kalaitzake, Manolis and Crean, Margaret 2020 published online in The Sociological ReviewSeptember 2020 . (Pre-publication version) The online version is available at 14 If sociologists explicitly recognise the ethical-political reality of affective love, care and solidarity as normative values and affective practices, this could not only contribute to a new understanding of how the normative order influences social actions, it could also help change public discourse about politics by making care-related affective justice visible intellectually and politically. Gender significance Given that it is women, especially poor women, who do most unpaid and paid care work, relational justice is a highly gendered issue in classed, racial, and ethnic terms (Bolton and Houlihan 2009; Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2003; Gutierrez-Rodriguez 2014, Oxfam 2020). The rising cost of living and indebtedness in capitalist societies has forced many women to enter employment but without adequate care supports for their children, or for vulnerable adults. Women and men in the Global North pay for childcare while living on limited and precarious incomes, and with significantly under-funded public services. The global chain of caring injustices ensues, whereby poor women of the Global South are actively encouraged and enabled to migrate to the Global North to care for young children and older people at a significant emotional cost to themselves, their own birth children and vulnerable relatives (Fraser 2016: 114). Given that care relations are central to the operation of the global capitalist economy, any analysis of social justice in sociology needs to be cognizant of this. Not to take affective relations seriously is to align sociology with capitalism’s devaluation of caring, treating it, and those (mostly women) who do it as abjected entities, both economically and culturally (Muller 2019).