Care at the center of economic choice: Resolving the conflict between housing and agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley
This dissertation addresses the implications of an ethic of care for economic policy and analysis using the case of urban sprawl in the San Joaquin Valley as a focus. Specifically, I show that an ethic of care requires principles of justice so that economic analysis and public policy can address the availability of affordable housing for those living in the area, the preservation of agricultural land, and the quality of community life.
I begin by providing a description of the housing and agricultural land loss situation in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties, the two California Central Valley counties most affected by sprawl from the San Francisco Bay Area. Next, I reconstruct, critique, and synthesize work on care by several authors, focusing on the work of Sara Ruddick and Joan Tronto. Building on this analysis, I expand the definition and components of an ethic of care to include farmland. I then continue by establishing links between care and justice using economic justice analysis by Christian writers Walter Rauschenbusch and Reinhold Niebuhr along with the pastoral letter of the United States Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All. In the final section of my theoretical work, I connect care and economic life using relevant philosophical literature as well as critical economic literature. In my conclusions, I formulate moral criteria for weighing the conflicting claims of land for housing and farmland care. I argue that, when we apply these criteria, the balancing of claims requires substantial expansion of access to affordable housing in the Bay Area itself as well as significant restrictions on further land development in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties. At the end, I briefly draw together the broader implications of an ethic of care for economic analysis and policy that emerge from my work.
0503: Agricultural economics