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L’espace au prisme de l’éthique du care / Housing through the lens of care

Entretien avec Joan Tronto / An interview with Joan Tronto
Audrey Courbebaisse et Chloé Salembier

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L’espace au prisme de l’éthique du care

  • 1 Joan Tronto dans le champ de la philosophie, Odet Galor dans le champ de l’économie et Patrick Bouc (...)

1Cet entretien s’est déroulé le 28 octobre 2021, à Louvain-la-Neuve dans le cadre de la Semaine des doctorats honoris causa décernés par le secteur des sciences humaines de l’Université catholique de Louvain. Parmi les trois personnalités honorées de ce titre cette année1, Joan Tronto (n. 1952) politologue féministe américaine, professeure émérite des universités de New York et du Minnesota, qui a politisé et théorisé l’éthique du care à la suite des travaux de la philosophe et psychologue Carol Gilligan (In a Different Voice, Harvard University Press, 1982).

  • 2 Joan C. Tronto, Berenice Fisher, « Toward a Feminist Theory of Caring », in Emily K. Abel and Marga (...)

2La notion de care, difficilement traduisible, englobe une série de concepts tels que le soin mutuel, la bienveillance, la sollicitude, l’attention. Joan Tronto et Berenice Fisher la définissent comme toute « activité générique qui comprend tout ce que nous faisons pour maintenir, perpétuer et réparer notre « monde », de sorte que nous puissions y vivre aussi bien que possible. Ce monde comprend nos corps, nous-mêmes et notre environnement2 », déclinés en quatre différents aspects :

1. Caring about, « se soucier de » : constater l’existence d’un besoin, reconnaître la nécessité d’y répondre et évaluer la possibilité d’y apporter une réponse.

2. Taking care of, « prendre en charge » : assumer une responsabilité par rapport à ce qui a été constaté, c’est-à-dire agir en vue de répondre au besoin identifié. La responsabilité est ici entendue comme une forme d’efficacité.

3. Care giving, « prendre soin » : opérer la rencontre directe d’autrui à travers son besoin, réaliser l’activité dans sa dimension de contact avec les personnes.

4. Care receiving, « recevoir le soin » : pour le « donneur » de soin, reconnaître la manière dont celui qui le reçoit réagit au soin.

3Dans les travaux de Joan Tronto, le care est à la fois une disposition (un état à donner de l’attention ou du soin) et une pratique.

  • 3 Caroll Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Harvard Univer (...)

4Son approche se démarque de celle de ses prédécesseurs3 par l’élargissement des limites de la sphère du care, de la morale vers la politique, de la raison au monde des sentiments, de la sphère domestique à la sphère publique. Le care devient alors un concept politique, dépassant les hiérarchies de mutualisations collectives et encourageant les coopérations démocratiques. Le care invite à accepter et construire un monde nouveau pensé à partir de nos vulnérabilités communes, de l’acceptation que nous avons tous et toutes besoin de soin et que nous sommes interdépendantes.

5Comment cette notion de care peut-elle questionner l’architecture, l’espace ? Ou à l’inverse, comment l’architecture peut-elle être regardée au prisme du care ? En tant que pratique, le care est forcément spatialisé. Quel rôle joue l’espace dans le déploiement du care ?

6Plusieurs liens sont possibles entre care et espace… Nous pouvons par exemple nous questionner sur l’espace comme objet d’attention, de soin, mais aussi sur l’espace comme support de soin. Dans le premier cas, nous pourrions dire que toute pratique d’entretien, de maintenance, de restauration, de réhabilitation du bâti relève du care. Ces pratiques supposent une connaissance fine et donc une attention portée au bâti et à l’espace mais aussi aux conditions de production de cet espace : conditions de travail des ouvriers, provenance des matériaux de construction, respect du site d’implantation. Dans le second cas, nous pouvons émettre l’hypothèse que certaines conditions et configurations spatiales facilitent ou entravent le développement de pratiques du care : le palier généreux et éclairé naturellement serait-il plus propice à la rencontre de voisines dans un immeuble de logements collectif par exemple.

  • 4 Michel Lussault, « Porter attention aux espaces de vie anthropocènes. Vers une théorie du spatial c (...)
  • 5 Joan C. Tronto, « Caring Architecture », in Angelika Fitz and Elke Krasky (eds), Critical Care, arc (...)
  • 6 Michel Lussault, « Porter attention aux espaces de vie anthropocènes… », op. cit.

7Bien que la question du soin et de l’attention portés à toutes et tous en architecture et dans l’urbanisme ne soit pas nouvelle, la transposition de la notion théorique du care, notion apparue dans les années 1980, à l’espace est assez novatrice. Seuls quelques travaux la mentionnent, comme ceux de Michel Lussault4 ou des publications récentes de Joan Tronto sur le sujet comme cette interview donnée sur une architecture de la sollicitude5. Tenant compte de ces préalables, nous avons préféré concentrer l’échange sur l’habitat, compris ici dans une multiplicité d’échelles, depuis la planète anthropisée6 jusqu’au logement en passant par les espaces publics, intermédiaires et collectifs. C’est la vision de Joan Tronto à propos des liens entre espace et care que nous vous proposons dans cette retranscription.

Interview : Housing through the lens of care

Audrey Courbebaisse (AC): Dear Joan Tronto, many thanks for accepting to sit for this interview about space and care. How should we look at spaces as objects of care? What should we look at? What should the researcher pay attention to and which methodologies should they employ?

  • 7 Il s’agit du projet de recherche CTRL + H (Care-taker/support : Résilience Laboratory of Housing), (...)

Joan Tronto (JT): Thank you. Congratulations to you all for receiving a grant to do your research.7 It’s very wonderful. And this is really important work that I know nothing about. Nothing. This is the funny thing about care. It’s everywhere, and so I often speak to scholars who have specialties far removed from my own. And so you’ll forgive me if I say stupid things. Okay. Because I do that a lot.

So we start with this first question, how do you care for the space itself? And I will give you what I think is an honest but unsatisfactory answer, which is, that depends. You really need to know the context of how the space exists, to know the values of the people who are using the space, or the ways of life of the plants and animals, and rocks and rivers that are using the space. And you need to be responsive to what their needs are, and how they use the space. In New York City in the last two months, we’ve had very heavy rains. And twice, several of the subway stations became filled with water. And then a geographer wrote and said: do you know these are the subway stations which are located exactly where there were streams in the island of Manhattan before humans built it up? Why does this surprise us? But it does!

So if we had been attentive to the way the water naturally moved through the island, we wouldn’t have built a subway there. So the first thing we need to do is be as attentive as possible to the environment. So humans then have very different desires and needs for the space they create, though and since you’re an architect, you’re talking more about, well, you’re also talking about that kind of space. So humans can create space that is clean and attractive and welcoming. Or they can create space which is dangerous and dirty and unwelcoming. And it takes resources to create either of those kinds. Yes. And it also takes some intention to make the needs of the people or the needs of the users of the space fit the space. This works especially well for rich people, and not so well for people who are less well off.

AC: And, do you have some ideas of methodologies we can apply to observe this?

JT: It’s easier to see the mistakes than the successes, isn’t it? It’s easy to see which subway station is in the flood. And it’s easier to see which neighborhoods are poorly maintained. But, no, I think the method has to be observation, you have to just really be close observers of what’s going on. And on as many levels as possible. What’s interesting about space is that it’s multi-dimensional, and it’s been used constantly, in many dimensional ways. Does that make sense? And so you need to be thinking about different types of dimensions that you can be looking at all at once.

Chloé Salembier (CS): Do you mean different scales?

JT: Different scales, but also different users, different levels, as in: the natural world, the plant world, the animal world, the human world, all of those.

AC: My second question is connected to the relationship between space and care. What would be the characteristics of a space conducive to care practices? What role does space play in the deployment of care?

JT: This is a really interesting question. Again, the best examples come from failures. So a book written by a guy whose name is Harber, the book is called Diepsloot (Anton Harber, Jonathan Ball Publishers SA, 2010). And it’s a township in South Africa that did not exist during the apartheid era. So you can’t blame this on apartheid. But since it’s built, it’s been a disastrous township, in part because they use the principles they had in mind of what constituted good work and building it. So, they put all the houses on a little plot, a little house, down a street that went like this [author indicates streets in straight lines with hand gestures]. And what they discovered almost immediately, is that the people who own this little house built other little structures on their plot, so that their friends and family could come visit them, and that they could live in a circle. And Harber says: the more I thought about it, humans would rather live in a circle than down the street. Down the street is convenient for the people who want to pick up the trash, but it’s not convenient for the people who want to live there. So the question of how we know what people’s needs are and how we make the space feel comfortable to them, is much more important than what services are going to be easier because we’ve made them all down a row. And so, again, here’s a bad example. Here’s a place where it didn’t work, and that gives us a way to look at what more positive functions would be, which is: you’d ask people what it is that they want their housing to do. But then that becomes a more complicated question of how do you know what to ask. We’ll get to that too.

AC: We understand from your writings that care is both a disposition and a practice. So we understand that dispositions can be generalized while practices remain necessarily circumscribed to a precise and unique context. Thus, if an analysis demonstrates spatial and social conditions for the deployment of care, does this remain localized or can we envisage reproducing these conditions in other socio-spatial contexts?

JT: This is a hard question, and a good question. I wouldn’t characterize disposition and practice as one is universal, and one is particular. They’re both universal, and they’re both particular. And as a result, it becomes a little easier to recognize that practices can be moved from place to place, or not. And they can also be scaled up or scaled down. So usually, when we’re talking about care, we start to think from very private, personal, small scale, but in fact, care is operating all the time at all levels. So the university here has a way of caring, it may not be a very good way, or it may be a way that is, in some ways, contradictory to itself, as frankly, are all our care practices. And as a result, we could penalize the practice of how the university cares for its students. And we would see lots of complications with legal and economic and we’ve got to attract more students, all those kinds of issues, contradicting perhaps: we need to keep them safe, we need to keep standards. I mean, every care situation brings with it lots of complicated dilemmas. So you don’t want people to just take a practice from one place and say, Look, that will work there too. It won’t. But what you can do is learn a little bit about other people’s practices, or about other forms of practice, and adapt them.

Caring dispositions, I think, grow out of practice: you can’t really be caring if you’ve never done it. You can think you are, which is even more dangerous, perhaps. But then to be able to care, you have to know something about the actual care-giving process. And then, what happens over time is you become more alert. My favorite example of this: my mother was a nurse, and I remember once we were buying some gasoline at a stop on the road and we went into the little place to pay and we left, and my mother said, “Did you see that poor woman?” “No, what, I saw some people, what?” She said, “she is a battered woman, her husband beats her.” I said, “How did you know… really?” She said, “Yes, didn’t you see the bruise on her face and the way she was walking?” And no, I hadn’t. But my mother, as a nurse, was tuned in to notice these things. And as a result, she picked up on a really serious thing that I was completely oblivious to. All of us are oblivious to some needs and see others. But all of us can be trained to be more observant. And it’s in that training to become more observant that we deepen our appreciation of care.

And if, you know, some spaces are clean, and some spaces are dirty, I often think it’s probably a result of things as simple as: which people just expect there to be dirt on the ground and papers thrown around, and therefore they don’t even see them, and which people it would be unusual for them to see some paper on the ground, and so when they do see it, they pick it up. Now, maybe some people like having papers on the ground. But if you would want to change that disposition — you could do it — but you’d have to convince people to start picking up the papers and convince them that if they did, others would as well, and further convince them that if they and others did, they’d all feel a little better about it. So does that answer this question? So practices are always going to be complex and multi-dimensional.

AC: The observation of care practices is carried out in relatively small spheres, and situates inhabitants and communities at the heart of systems of care. How can we envisage the link to public policies? What interventions can authorities provide to facilitate and create preventive care? What should be the role of public authorities and cite some helpful practices in terms of governance?

JT: That’s a lot, let’s start at the beginning again

AC: How can we envisage the link with public authorities?

JT: Well, it’s interesting because public authorities should think they do have a sense of what they should be doing with space, right? They think they know how to build a public housing project, build a subway station, build a bridge, they know how to do that, or so they think. But then it becomes, it’s so interesting, that they then often build things that the community is furious about, you know, why did you put that ugly building in our neighborhood? Why did you put that bridge there? It’s dangerous for our children to have it there. Right? And this happens all the time. So that’s the kind of thing you’re talking about, how do we fix these problems? And the answer is, you have to go back again to the beginning, which is, you have to be thinking about the entire context before you act. And public authorities, although they have some expertise, also need some patience, and need to deal with the people around the project in order for them to do it correctly.

Some thoughts where my head had gone were: some scholars in Germany have prepared a care manifesto. There are about four really wonderful care economies — care manifesto, care manifesto from the Global South, the Germans “care now project” — that list a whole series of steps we can take to make the world more caring. But the one that I want to talk about now is the one from this German research group, where they say we need to mainstream caring the way we mainstream gender. So any government policy now that doesn’t explain how it addresses gender issues gets sent back, right? So too we could say, anytime you have a government policy that doesn’t explain how you thought about the interaction with the caring issues in the community gets sent back. And after a few were sent back, I think they would then figure out a way to start asking people about care. Now, they’d probably do it badly, right? They’d probably give people a questionnaire and say, “Will this affect the way you walk your children to school?” “No?” “Okay, we’re done.” But then this, at least, opens the avenue for people to begin to interact and transform the way these decisions get made.

CS: And do you think that the starting point for designing spaces that mainstream care should be to begin with the needs of the most vulnerable?

JT: That would be ideal. It’s not what’s going to happen. The people who are most articulate will be the ones whose voices are heard. The question is then, how do you make the voices of those who are less articulate heard so that they’re included in the first place? And what that often will entail is dislocating the voice of those who are already proficient at expressing themselves.

CS: To what extent can the ethics of care help us think about fairer and more resilient habitats?

  • 8 Agie Galicy est doctorante en architecture dans le projet CTRL + H, rattachée à la cellule de reche (...)

JT: If you start from people’s needs, you will end up with fairer and more resilient habitats. And so that, to me, seems to be the first starting point. What do people need? Okay, it’s not that simple, because of another thing. There’s a difference — I am so slow at thinking, it’s taken me decades to realize this — but there’s a difference between needs, wants, and desires. And it’s appropriate to care in different ways depending on the situation. If your beloved partner only was concerned with your needs and not your desires, you would have a very unhappy life. If the state tries to tell you what your desires should be, it’s a really bad state. And so there are different levels at which we would engage needs, wants and desires differently. Speaking environmentally, or speaking in terms of permanent structures, we’d want to be most responsive to needs. But we wouldn’t want to leave out the possibility that the space could be altered, changed, transformed, adjusted, used in a way that met people’s wants and their desires as well. And sometimes we might want to be most responsive to their desires in creating spaces. Agie,8 I think this is what your work on queer spaces does, right, it looks first that, desire is part of the very design of the space. If it isn’t, it ain’t queer. To me, anyway. And so as a result, you would want in that situation to be more attentive to those sets of needs as well, those sorts of concerns as well.

CS: In my ethnological research, I conduct a lot of interviews with inhabitants, but because we are living in an individualistic society, when you ask people what they need, their responses are often guided by immediate things such as security and the requirements of a nuclear family. How do you reach the real needs? Because the dominant discourse is not very close to these human needs?

JT: Well, let’s unpack that a little. Because, in an individualistic society, of course, people are going to want individualistic solutions. That’s wants, not needs. But you can’t ignore people’s wants either. And in a society that was really caring, there would be enough space for a plurality of different ways of living so that those who really want to be individuals and live in their room by themselves can do so. But you would also want spaces or the capacity for people who want a more communal way of living to do so. Another thing I thought about were my colleagues in South Africa who were teaching social work at two very different universities. This is in Cape Town. One was at Stellenbosch, and one was at the University of the Western Cape (Bozalek, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2011). Stellenbosch has historically been an Afrikaans, white Afrikaans institution. University of the Western Cape was created originally for apartheid system, not black people, not white people, but mixed people. And as a result, it was not as well funded, and the students who went there were not as well off as the students who went to Stellenbosch. My colleagues taught their students together. And they thought, "Well, how will we ever break the barriers to get the students to really speak to each other?" And one of the things they did was to ask the social work students to draw pictures. Now, this was such a smart idea, because one of the things about our needs, our wants, our desires, first of all, we never sort those out, but secondly, we become very good at presenting our wants and our desires as if they were needs. And so the question and if someone asks us the question, “What do you think is just in this case?” The first thing we do is say, “Well, I think Justice requires...” and then a funny thing happens in our head where we translate it into, “What’s in my interest, I better say that’s the just thing.” And so, in that translating moment where we put our own interests first, well, somehow, justice gets lost.

And so then the question becomes, how do you dislodge people from immediately jumping into “what’s in my interest?” And to think really honestly about their needs? For environmental questions, I think this is a really serious question, we’re going to have to face how we do this. And the task of asking people to draw what they thought the neighborhood should look like, or what they thought the neighborhood did look like, was a way to open up people. Nobody’s thinking “What is my interest” in this drawing, it kind of takes us off guard. And so people were much more honest. And then when you looked at these very different pictures, the people from the white social workers drew very frightening pictures of the neighborhoods they thought they were going to be working in — which is kind of a really scary thought. Whereas the people who live there drew beautiful pictures of the neighborhoods. And so that gave them a basis to discuss. But it also let the white students see visibly their fear, their prejudice, which they would, if you would ask them, they would have denied they had, right. So asking people directly, interviewing people, you’re going to get a cognitive answer. You want to try to also get non-cognitive, desirous, childish, stick figure drawing answers to the questions you want to ask. So I don’t know if that technique in particular will help you. But once you start to think about, let’s find modes of getting people to express themselves, other than words, it might be interesting to see what kinds of results you can get.

CS: What you are describing is really challenging to the profession of architects, because it implies more of a co-design position. So if you had a lesson to give to architects to be more receptive to co-designing spaces, what would those lessons be?

JT: So I watch a lot of home improvement programs on television. Come on, don’t laugh at me. Nobody gets hurt. No one is murdered. So, it’s amazing how quickly people have developed the vocabulary of contemporary high design and use it to the “Oh, look at this open concept kitchen.” “That Island isn’t big enough.” Oh, come on people! Your grandma’s kitchen didn’t look like this. Why does yours have to? It really tells us that what happens often in architectures we think we’re co-designing, but in fact, the ideas have already filtered down from the top. And so the question of asking people to start from their needs, how do they move through space? Is this enough space to move through? How many times a day in your current residence do you bump into another person? Is that too many? There would be a different way of starting from the ground up to ask people what kind of space they needed. Mostly architects are getting paid by people who have relatively good economic circumstances.

CS: The architects are also creating, designing social housing...

JT: Yes, they are. From their perspective, yeah, yeah.

And so what would be really useful is to do a deep dig into what people in social housing would like. My guess is, and again, here then we have to think about the human life cycle. And here are some things that are happening at [CALICO], the building we went to yesterday, are very useful. Families with small children often need other people to help them watch the children. They don’t need a professional psychologist. They need somebody to watch this child for two hours while they go outside. And having a neighborhood or a building where that can be facilitated is really useful for small children. It’s not so useful for the “I want to be an individualist and look at my beautiful shiny things in my little space” person. But that’s okay. By the time people reach older age, they also become more frail and need architectural accommodations which are going to help them. The principle of universal design is really an important one, I think, for making it possible for different age groups to live together. And if you leave that out, if you don’t make it comfortable and appealing, [providing] proper amount of light, not too many steps, etc., etc., then you can produce these mixes. One of the challenges to me comes from something a scholar of anthropology told me some years ago. We were at a conference, she had done a dissertation where she’d gone to a hairdressing salon where older ladies mostly got their hair done. And most of the older ladies had wigs. And it was fascinating. When the wig was off the woman’s head the hairdressers didn’t speak to the woman, it was as if she wasn’t there, because she would not want to be seen in public without her wig. And so they didn’t see her. So the hairdressers made such wonderful accommodations to people’s sense of dignity. But one hairdresser also made a passing observation that just stuck with me. She said, “In our society, we hardly know any older people very well, except for the ones who are in our families.” And what a loss for children not to know wise older people, and what a loss for wise older people not to have children to speak with. So somehow finding ways to integrate people across and outside of family unit is another way, I think, to make social housing more appropriate. It’s expensive, because it takes space.

CS: And most of the time the spaces are designed, but we don’t have money to manage them, to have those caretakers.

JT: To have it cleaned up. And once the space becomes dirty, no one will want to use it. So.

CS: So, for this question, we are more in the realm of utopians. Not in the sense that these goals are not reachable. But on the contrary, utopias are made to offer us horizons to imagine the future. And in your book, Le Risque ou le care [Tronto, Presses universitaires de France, 2012, traduit de l’américain par Fabienne Brugère], you draw an opposition between two types of societies, a society driven by the risk, and a society of care. If you were to imagine an ideal habitat, or city, driven by the care, what would it look like? And maybe you can also speak about how a society driven by risk looks like in terms of its urban and architectural form?

JT: Well, we already know what a society driven by risk looks like, yes, gleaming clean towers for rich people, and mess for everybody else. I live in New York. And increasingly, they are putting up these huge, expensive condominium buildings just in the middle of a block, no attention to the neighborhood at all. Why do they think they don’t have to pay any attention to the neighborhood at all? And the answer is simple: they’ve built a garage under the building. The people who get in their cars and leave, there are now so many delivery services, they will never put their feet on the street. Except when they want to walk out to get in a cab to go to the opera. So that’s what a city of risk looks like. The risk is so unevenly distributed. Some people have protected themselves entirely from everything and others are at great risk. Literally living on the street, in front of that building. So that’s what a risk society can look like.

What would a care society look like? Here, it’s awfully close to the city that we now have too. And that is if everyone has some adequate levels of care, people are — I’m a deeply pluralistic person — and, one of the things about the city — this is in Iris Young’s book, called Justice and the Politics of Difference published in 1990. The last chapter is called “The City”. And in it, she writes that one of the things that she liked so much about the city is that it’s anonymous, you don’t know your neighbors, you’re going to run into something you’ve never seen before, every day. It’s risky. She calls the city erotic because of all of the things you don’t know. I taught this to students and they said, “Erotic?” Really seriously, they were more conservative young men. “I don’t understand how the word erotic fits here” It was very unhappy. But it is right, that’s part of the joy of being in a city. On the other hand, if we’re going to talk about utopian housing, we have to go back for a moment to Thomas Moore, the first utopian of modern times. And in Utopia, I don’t know if you remember this, all of the housing is distributed by lottery and redistributed by lottery every ten years. So each family has a house. But after ten years, they have to move. And I would sometimes say to my students, so imagine that every ten years you could end up in the best house or the worst house? What would the housing look like? And certainly, nobody would build the cities we have now, if you threw a lottery, we’re going to end up in the worst house. Everybody would make sure the housing was adequate. Now what the utopians also did, and this was the only place where more allowed competition in the entire society, was in the gardens. And he said, “Each house had a garden,” and the people would all contribute to their garden and compete to make their garden the most beautiful.

CS: In terms of services, what do we imagine as common services in caring city?

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JT: So in a caring city, that would be the basic services that people need: really good public transit, adequate safety, universal design. You’d have police who were actually there to help people rather than chase them down, you would have health facilities nearby. Italians in the 1980s, feminist Italians, began talking about the time of the city, and mentioned the fact that all of the city’s offices were closed during the times when women had free moments to go out. How does that work? (So, you would organize) In Bogota, Colombia, the mayor Claudia Lopez9 is just a real visionary about care in the city. What she’s done is to create care districts and make sure that city services are available to everybody within a 15 minutes’ walk of their home10 so that whatever you need from the city is there. One of my neighbors was telling me about her family: in New York City, if you are older, you can get a pass on the transit that makes the price half. But you have to go to this office in Southern Manhattan and wait, maybe four hours, to get a picture taken and a form stamped so you can have this pass. Now, you know, when Anna and I moved back to New York, we said “tomorrow we’re going to get this.” But for some people, they literally never in their lives bothered to make this trip because it’s just too much trouble. And actually, in some places, it’s two hours one way on public transit to get there. That’s stupid, right? That’s the kind of thing that you could fix very easily and it would make the lives of people materially better. So the idea of putting the services near people, simple as that sounds, is already something that needs to be accomplished. Now, to talk about time for a moment, in addition to space. Another thing that would really be helpful in redesigning or rethinking services is to think about the ways in which, if time is out of sync in people’s lives, it creates enormous problems for them. So here’s one of the things I’m thinking about: the school. Well, we were just experiencing this yesterday. The school day ends midday here on Wednesdays. Now. Okay, if you’re a full-time working parent, what do you do with your kids? On Wednesday afternoon?

CS: You work?

JT: House, I mean, really, why are work and school, so out of sync with each other? It’s such a simple thought. But it’s so difficult to change. But those are the kinds of things that if we were really committed to starting over again, with “where would care be,” we would start there, such a simple thought. But it’s so difficult to change. But those are the kinds of things that if we were really committed to starting over again, with “where would care be,” we would start there.

CS: And, you know there is also this movement towards the digitization of services. Do you think that some services should be digitalized or do services need to really stay human to be caring?

JT: I don’t think digitization necessarily pushes further from humans. Some things, it’s nice to do without humans. Not many, but some. On the other hand, the problem with digitization is that you need to make sure everyone has access to the digital systems. Another thing that’s happening in Bogota: they asked the women “What would you like? We want to help support you as caregivers, what do you need?” And the poor women, in these, you know, really far out boroughs of the city said “We need to learn to use computers”. And so they set up these centers for women, among other things to learn to use computers, because not everyone knows how. So, the digital divide is still a problem.

CS: The last question is more about your personal and professional history. We would like to know how you started working on the issue of care. Might the fact that your mother is a nurse be part of the answer? What was the initiating event that encouraged you to work on this issue?

  • 11 Le Hunter College of the City University of New York, fondé en 1870 est l’un des établissements de (...)

JT: So, I finished my dissertation in 1981 on Is political rationality possible? A critique of political control in Hobbes, Smith and Weber, and then I was at Hunter college,11 and we had a seminar of feminist scholars to think about how to integrate new scholarships on women into the curriculum.

And one of the new pieces of scholarship we read was Carol Gilligan’s book that had just been published. And reading it, I thought, “two ethics, look, this is not new, this is the replay of late 18th century Scottish Enlightenment Moral sentiment versus quantum universalism.” There is something going on here that is much bigger. So that was the impetus to think about it.

But at the same time, as a feminist I was really worried. I described it to my students then as the feminist nightmare, that what would result of all the activity of feminist women in the 1970s and 1980s was that upper middle-class women would break cast barriers which kept them in low jobs. For the most part women became teachers, librarians, nurses, they did not become physicists and so on. My seventh-grade algebra teacher was actually a woman who, during WW2 — I’m old — worked on the Manhattan project which developed the atomic bomb. She was a physicist in a lab and working on developing the atomic bomb. And then she ended up teaching me algebra. “What a waste of her talent,” we could say on one level. And on another level, we could say, “How lucky was I to have this really smart woman teaching me algebra!” But now she wouldn’t be teaching me algebra, right, she would be doing something else.

As a result, it became clear to me that what was going to happen was, women like me — I didn’t become a teacher, I became a college professor — were going to rise up in the professional ranks, leaving behind all the care work, because nobody was talking about how to change how we do care work. And what we would have instead is people of color, women who are poor, coming to do the work, the care work, that had previously been done by the professional women in their own homes. And frankly, that’s what’s happened, and the class divide has grown larger, and it’s not a good thing. So, those were the things that led me to think about care.

CS and AC: Thank you very much.

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Bibliographie

Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Harvard University Press, 1982.

Carol Giligan, Arlie Hochschild, Joan C. Tronto, Contre l’indifférence des privilégiés. À quoi sert le care, Paris, Payot, 2013.

Michel Lussault, « Porter attention aux espaces de vie anthropocènes. Vers une théorie du spatial care », in Rémy Beau et al., Penser l’Anthropocène, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018, pp. 199-218.

Joan C. Tronto, Berenice Fisher, « Toward a Feminist Theory of Caring », in Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson (eds.), Circles of Care, Albany (NY), SUNY Press, 1990.

Joan C. Tronto, Selma Sevenhuijsen, Gender, Care and Justice in Feminist Political Theory, Anna Maria van Schuurman Centrum, Graduate School for advanced research on women’s studies, Utrech, 1991.

Joan C. Tronto, Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care, Routledge, New York, 1993.

Joan C. Tronto, I confini morali. Un argomento politico per l’etica della cura, Diabasis, Parma, 2006.

Joan C. Tronto, Revue du Mauss, n° 32 « Du care », 2008, [en ligne] [https://www.cairn.info/revue-du-mauss-2008-2-page-243.htm].

Joan C. Tronto, Un monde vulnérable, pour une politique du care, La Découverte, Paris, 2009.

Joan C. Tronto, Le Risque ou le care ?, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2012.

Joan C. Tronto, Caring Democracy. Markets, Equality and Justice, New York, New York University Press, 2013.

Joan C. Tronto, Who Cares?: How to Reshape a Democratic Politics, Cornell University Press, 2015.

Joan C. Tronto, « Caring Architecture », in Angelika Fitz and Elke Krasky (eds), Critical Care, architecture and urbanism for a broken planet, MIT Press, 2020. Traduction de l’article en français sur Topophile, [en ligne] [https://topophile.net/savoir/vers-une-architecture-du-menagement/].

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Notes

1 Joan Tronto dans le champ de la philosophie, Odet Galor dans le champ de l’économie et Patrick Boucheron dans le champ de l’histoire.

2 Joan C. Tronto, Berenice Fisher, « Toward a Feminist Theory of Caring », in Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson (eds.), Circles of Care, Albany (NY), SUNY Press, 1990, pp. 36-54.

3 Caroll Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Harvard University Press, 1982.

4 Michel Lussault, « Porter attention aux espaces de vie anthropocènes. Vers une théorie du spatial care », in R. Beau et al., Penser l’Anthropocène, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018, pp. 199-218.

5 Joan C. Tronto, « Caring Architecture », in Angelika Fitz and Elke Krasky (eds), Critical Care, architecture and urbanism for a broken planet, MIT Press, 2020.

6 Michel Lussault, « Porter attention aux espaces de vie anthropocènes… », op. cit.

7 Il s’agit du projet de recherche CTRL + H (Care-taker/support : Résilience Laboratory of Housing), financé par la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, dans le cadre de l’appel Prospective Research Innoviris. Le projet de quatre années (2021-2025), coordonné par Audrey Courbebaisse et Chloé Salembier (faculté d’architecture LOCI de l’Université catholique de Louvain) a pour objectif d’une part de mieux connaître et d’objectiver les liens entre logement et résilience des personnes durant la période Covid-19, et d’autre part de formuler des scénarios exploratoires pour des modes d’habiter et des habitats résilients en réponse à une crise plus globale, en région de Bruxelles-Capitale, celle du logement.

8 Agie Galicy est doctorante en architecture dans le projet CTRL + H, rattachée à la cellule de recherche Uses & Spaces et à l’institut LAB de l’UCLouvain.

9 Claudia Lopez (1950), est maire de Bogota depuis 2019. Elle est la première femme à diriger la capitale colombienne et la première maire homosexuelle d’une capitale américaine. Sous son mandat, de nombreuses dispositions en faveur d’une ville du care se mettent en place, comme le District Care System, qui est un ensemble de services, de réglementations, de politiques et d’actions techniques et institutionnelles visant à reconnaître, redistribuer et réduire le travail de soins, en le considérant comme une fonction sociale nécessaire à la vie quotidienne des personnes et au fonctionnement de la société. Dans ce contexte politique favorable, des initiatives sont nées telles que Sistema Distributal Cuidado, mettant en lien différents réseaux de care existants et nouveaux, et Linea Purpura proposant un numéro téléphonique gratuit et réservé aux femmes. Voir [en ligne] [https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnership/?p=36711], [http://www.sistemadecuidado.gov.co/index.html], [https://www.sdmujer.gov.co].

10 La « ville du quart d’heure », concept datant du début du XXe siècle et revisité par l’universitaire colombien Carlos Moreno dans les années 1990, inspire de nombreuses métropoles dans le monde. La maire de Paris Anne Hidalgo l’a adopté lors de son investiture en 2020. Ottawa, Copenhague ou Melbourne travaillent également sur cette nouvelle urbanité qui consiste à limiter les déplacements polluants et à améliorer le cadre de vie. Voir [en ligne] [https://www.paris.fr/dossiers/paris-ville-du-quart-d-heure-ou-le-pari-de-la-proximite-37]. De manière générale, nous remarquons une augmentation des initiatives collectives autour du care, souvent attisées par la crise sanitaire du Covid-19, comme ce Care Manifesto cosigné par l’Allemagne, l’Autriche et la Suisse, et ses neuf recommandations pour visibiliser et mieux les intégrer les pratiques du care dans les politiques publiques. Voir [en ligne] [https://care-macht-mehr.com/english-version-2020/].
Nous pouvons également citer les manifestes et propositions : Manifeste d’Oxfam, « Time to care », 2020, [en ligne] [https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/620928/bp-time-to-care-inequality-200120-en.pdf], UN Women, « Families in a changing world », 2020, [en ligne] https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/progress-of-the-worlds-women ; Austrian Scholars of Care, « Clean Up Time », 2020, [en ligne] https://care-macht-mehr.com/clean-up-time-redesigning-care-after-corona/ ; Women’s Budget Group (UK); « Commission on a Gender Equal Economy: Creating a Caring Economy », 2020, [en ligne] [https://wbg.org.uk/commission/], The Care Collective, « Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence », Verso, 2020 ; ou encore « Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition, The Care manifesto by women from Latin America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa », [en ligne] [https://femnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/EJR-AC_CSO_Care-Manifesto.pdf].

11 Le Hunter College of the City University of New York, fondé en 1870 est l’un des établissements de l’université américaine public, d’abord réservé aux femmes et devenu mixte en 1946. L’école est alors ouverte à toutes les femmes qualifiées, sans distinction de race, de religion ou d’origine ethnique, contrairement à la plupart des établissements d’enseignement supérieur pour femmes. Le Hunter College propose différentes formations au sein de six programmes : School of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Professions, Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, Silberman School of Social Work, School of Urban Public Health. L’ouverture de l’enseignement à toutes les femmes, la prévalence du travail social et de la santé dans les enseignements prodigués, mais également la proximité éducative et les possibilités d’interdisciplinarité permettent de mieux comprendre l’émergence, le développement et la diffusion de notions théoriques telles que le care.

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Référence électronique

Audrey Courbebaisse et Chloé Salembier, « L’espace au prisme de l’éthique du care / Housing through the lens of care »Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale urbaine et paysagère [En ligne], Matériaux de la recherche, mis en ligne le 10 février 2022, consulté le 09 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/craup/9523 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/craup.9523

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Auteurs

Audrey Courbebaisse

Audrey Courbebaisse est professeure à la faculté d’architecture, d’ingénierie architecturale et d’urbanisme (LOCI) de l’Université catholique de Louvain, chercheuse au sein du Louvain Research Institute For Landscape, Architecture, Built Environment (LAB) et de la cellule de recherche Uses & Spaces.

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Chloé Salembier

Chloé Salembier est chargée de cours à la faculté d’architecture, d’ingénierie architecturale et d’urbanisme (LOCI) de l’Université Catholique de Louvain, coresponsable de la cellule de recherche Uses & Spaces au sein du Louvain Research Institute For Landscape, Architecture, Built Environment (LAB).

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