Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


John Mollenkopf

Subject Categories

Political Science


Unpaid care work in the family is categorized as work done in the private sphere. However, Pamela Herd and Madonna Meyer (2002) have suggested a new framework that recognizes unpaid care work in the family as a form of civic engagement. Since women continue to perform the majority of unpaid care work in the family, the new framework seeks to recognize unpaid care labor women perform as a contribution to society - in particular for the development of children. The framework uses previously developed concepts from social capital theorist Robert Putnam (1995, 1996, 2000) to demonstrate that unpaid care work fits into pre-existing literature on civic engagement. This thesis pulls examples from different works of literature that involve civic engagement to demonstrate that Herd and Meyer's framework helps to demonstrate how unpaid care work contributes to one’s civic engagement. Here the thesis also recommends ways that can 'recognize, reduce, and redistribute' (see Elson, 2017) unpaid care work to create a better balance of unpaid care work responsibilities between men and women.