Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Work in the Spirit: the ethics of caring as unpaid work

Rand, Stacey (2019) Work in the Spirit: the ethics of caring as unpaid work. In: Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (SSCE) Conference 2019, 5-7 September 2019, London, UK. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:77499)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL:


Miroslav Wolf’s Work in the Spirit (2001) develops a theology of human work by engaging with the reality of work in industrialised technological societies. Volf interprets work within a pneumatological framework, which rejects the view of work as a vocation separate from individual giftings and inclinations. Instead, human work, especially when aligned with the type of work for which God’s Spirit has gifted us, is a cooperation with God’s action to preserve and transform the world. In this presentation, Volf’s framework for interpreting work theologically and identifying Christian ethical principles will be used to explore unpaid care as an example of human work. (Unpaid care refers to the help and support by family, friends and neighbours of people living with disabilities, long-term health conditions and/or needs associated with older age.) What this presentation seeks to achieve is some of the translation of theological-ethical principles into ‘real world’ policy and practice that Volf argues is:

“… the creative assignment of Christian economists and social scientists (to be carried out in dialogue with theologians).” (p.76)

The presentation will draw on the author’s own work as a self-supporting priest and Christian social scientist, who is employed as a Research Fellow at the University of Kent, with an interest in unpaid care in English social care policy and practice. The nature of unpaid care and its place in the social care system in England will be briefly described. Using unpaid care by family, friends and neighbours as an example of (unpaid) human work, Volf’s ethical framework of a theology of work will be applied in order to develop a theological perspective on unpaid care. In particular, Volf’s concept of alienating work will be applied. Briefly, the framework identified forms of alienating or non-humanising work as: (1) work that limits workers’ autonomy and development, especially through human relationships in/at work; (2) work that is not for the common good; and (3) work that is an end in itself. Volf describes these forms of alienating work with regard to employment within the boundaries of employer/employee relationships; however, they may also be applied to forms of unpaid human work, including unpaid caregiving. Through this application of Volf’s framework, insights that may inform policy and practice will be identified. Finally, the overall approach of bringing theological and social scientific perspectives into dialogue will be briefly evaluated with a view of its implications for formation and the teaching/learning of Christian ethics.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Personal Social Services Research Unit
Depositing User: Stacey Rand
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2019 12:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2023 15:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.