Gender, Care and Capitalism, 1700 to the present (DL) HIST5186

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

Care is a resource without which humans cannot survive or thrive. In spite of this-perhaps even because of it-care remains relatively understudied. Essentialised and assumed to be timeless, care is occluded from scholarship that centres economically rational, self-sufficient, individuated actors as history's prime movers. This course introduces key theoretical frameworks and methodological innovations drawn from a range of disciplines and feminist perspectives that provide foundations for a history of care. Care provision is approached as an historically contingent system, imbricated in economic, political, and social structures, and linked to material, representational, gender and racial inequalities. Our focus will be on the period of western capitalist expansion from c.1700 to the present day, and the ways in which capitalism has rested on and compounded the unequal distribution and contribution of care resources. We will also consider the challenges of writing a care-centric rather than a capital-centric history of modern development, in which the affective, social, economic, and radical significance of caring relations is placed at the heart rather than on the margins of analysis.


Asynchronous online discussion forum, moderated by course convenor (17 hours across semester).

Individual tutorial (online, 30 mins).

Weekly, asynchronous recorded lecture (15 minutes per week x 10 weeks).

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Master's at College level.

Excluded Courses





Recorded podcast (5 minutes) - 20%

Critical essay (4,000 words) - 80%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Develop students' knowledge and understanding of historical evidence and arguments relating to the interaction between productive and reproductive labour in capitalist development in the modern world.

■ Equip students with the skills to appraise theoretical and methodological approaches to gender and care work, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, which may include sociology, feminist economics, and developmental psychology, alongside history.

■ Hone students' transferable skills in working independently on a critical essay and presenting their work to both public and academic audiences.  

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and evaluate historical evidence and arguments relating to the significance of care work and its distribution between individuals and institutions, the family, and the market for gendered divisions of labour, work-force participation, social inequalities, and economic performance.

■ Describe and appraise theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from a range of disciplines and evaluate their utility to an understanding the history of gender, care, and capitalism in the modern world.

■ Present arguments in unambiguous, concise, and effective prose, incorporating different kinds of substantiating evidence and using a range of formats and media to address scholarly and public audiences.

■ Engage in lively and well-grounded discussion with fellow students, in seminars and/or discussion forums, including commenting meaningfully on each other's work.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.