The Future of Care Work:

Towards a Radical Politics of Care in CSCW Research and Practice

CSCW 2021 Workshop


CSCW has long studied how technology can support everyday care work, with an increasing emphasis on informal healthcare provision, child and elderly care, organizing and advocacy work, domestic work, teaching, and service work. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief the long-present tensions between the deep necessity and simultaneous devaluation of our care infrastructures. We need to pay attention to the broader social, political, and economic systems that shape care work, and by extension, the ever-increasing range of technologies being used in care work.

In this one-day workshop, we will bring together researchers from academia and industry to reflect on these questions in order to extend conversations on the future of technology for care work in CSCW and HCI. Together, we will explore several critical questions of care work:

  • What counts as care work and why?

  • How is care work variously (de)valued, (un)supported, or coerced and to what end?

  • What narratives are pushing the drive for technology in care work and who does it benefit?

  • How can care be a form of resistance against oppressive systems?

  • And how can we advocate for and with care and caregivers through our research and practice?

You can also check out our full proposal.


By providing a space to share a wide range of experiences in seeking to understand and support care work, the workshop will allow us to develop and propose a research agenda for thinking comprehensively about the politics of care work. Our goal is to explore the following three related themes:

Critical Perspectives on Care Work. This theme is intended to encourage participants to draw connections between one another's work and feminist political economy. Questions we reflect on through this theme include: What counts as care work? How do the cultural meanings, forms of control over, and economic and political contributions of care work change depending on the context? How has/does technology fit into these meanings and mechanisms? What methods are useful for comprehensively answering these questions and how can researchers and designers enable a critical reflection on complexities surrounding care work?

Design For and With a Radical Politics of Care. The goal of this theme is to understand the role that design can play to meaningfully support care work that resists systems of oppression, advocacy for and by caregivers, and sociopolitical means of valuing care work. As part of this theme, we will ask: What are the continuities between participatory research and design and other design justice agendas and care-focused research? How can we learn from a radical politics of care rooted in, for example, mutual aid or commoning? What is the potential for speculative design as a way of understanding how to design with a radical politics of care?

The Future of Care Work. Through this theme, we will explore forthcoming trends in the use of technology in care work, taking a broad view of what counts as work. We will discuss how this positionality could inform future of work discourse in CSCW and HCI, including avenues for policy change and workplace organizing. This theme also offers the opportunity to consider on a meta-level how researchers do (often unpaid) care work in research and our workplaces to create safer environments, and introspect on doing more going forward.


Opening and introductions: 1 hour

Break (10 minutes)

Breakout group discussions (1 hour 30 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Whole group discussion and closing remarks (1 hour 10 minutes)