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Mind the Gap: Built Infrastructures, Sustainable Caring Relations, and Resilient Communities in Extreme Weather Events

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Climate change debates seldom link the insights derived from the physical sciences to the concerns of social scientists. Understanding how failures in built infrastructures increase the caring burden on women is one of these instances. This article draws on a pilot study on climate change and older people to demonstrate that women who provide informal care services are called upon to fill the gap between declining levels of formal care provisions and care needs when the infrastructures serving a community fail. This research challenges policymakers, emergency planners, and practitioners to think about the increased care burdens that women are expected to undertake during disasters involving extreme weather events like heat waves, cold snaps, and flooding, and reconsider policies that pass this responsibility down to the level of community without the necessary support services and built infrastructures being in place. This issue acquires additional urgency in the context of declining levels of care being publicly funded through the age of austerity as public expenditure cuts begin to bite.
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Keywords: Built Infrastructure; Caring Relations; Climate Change; Extreme Weather Events; Gendered Division of Labour; Women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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