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Gendering the Care Debate: the implications of current policy Kirstein Rummery Professor of Social Policy University of Stirling

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Presentation on theme: "Gendering the Care Debate: the implications of current policy Kirstein Rummery Professor of Social Policy University of Stirling"— Presentation transcript:

1 Gendering the Care Debate: the implications of current policy Kirstein Rummery Professor of Social Policy University of Stirling

2 Background Managing demand: self-directed support, commodification of services, moves towards consumerism Feminist concern with how to recognise and compensate for ‘care’: women’s citizenship and a gendered analysis of work New hybrid of work/care: neither fully paid/employed workers, nor unpaid family care What are the gendered implications of these changes?

3 Commodifying care Reduced pool of domestic labour: women’s gains in the public sphere? Cost containment versus the quality of care issue – commodifying care is the middle way? Rise of ‘disability rights’: control over delivery of services, rejection of ‘family care’ as the ‘most exploitative’

4 Cash-for-care developments United Kingdom: Direct payments/self directed support Netherlands: personal care budget Italy: companion payments France: personalised payments Austria: cash benefits for care USA: consumer choice programmes


6 Feminising policy development? Lovenduski – ‘act for women, take on women’s concerns, make a difference to women’s lives’ Who undertakes, or pays for care crucial to women’s oppression BUT this is not a feminist, or gender mainstreaming policy development Reducing the role of the state – expecting family to step in, reinforcing gender inequalities Responding to demands from users – tackling enforced dependency – exploitative for both users and carers Awareness of gender dimensions, but not aiming to tackle gender inequalities

7 Governance and cash-for-care National vs regional governance Discretion -> scope for inequity Women’s interests better represented locally, through informal governance? Governance of schemes: policing women’s lives? Or protecting vulnerable workers?

8 Gendered division of work No impact on gendered division of labour Care work (paid and unpaid) still overwhelmingly the responsibility of women Actual payment is low  ‘trapping’ women into gendered expectations of delivering care, or into low paid jobs with poor prospects for training or employment protection Polarising care market – gaps between well-paid, regulated formal carers Look at nursing, teaching etc – where men have been attracted into these jobs, it is into the higher paid, managerial end

9 Lifecourse and social divisions Exacerbating social divisions Take up higher amongst younger, well-educated disabled people Middle classes benefit disproportionately from consumerism in the welfare state Gulf between middle-class and poorer disabled people and carers likely to grow, former more likely to be able to exercise choice Widening gulf between professional/quasi-professional carers and informal carers Power dynamics in family sphere Low-income families, unregulated -> gender differentials in access to money Reinforcing dependency relationships Commodifying intimate relationships -> open to exploitation and abuse on both sides

10 Wellbeing and citizenship Hugely popular with users and formal and informal carers! Why? Allows for complex social identities Fills in gaps in formal services Ethic of care: allowing women to be paid for care work opens up citizenship opportunities

11 Choice, empowerment, control Whose choice? (users versus carers) Whose empowerment? (is ‘power’ finite? Does giving users power take it away from carers?) Whose control? Can carers control what they do if they are paid? Marketisation of previously unregulated relationships: empowering or exploitative for carers (women?) Kinship relationships: does being paid to care increase its status and value? Flexibility: the flexibility to combine giving/receiving care/paid work – disabled mothers

12 Outcomes: carers and users

13 Conclusions: What type of scheme offer greatest benefits and lowest risks for social citizenship? High degree of formalisation offers protection and offsets negative gender effects (France, Netherlands) Some degree of protection, high degree of discretion -> potential negative gender effects (UK, USA) Low degree of protection -> high risk of negative gender effects (Austria, Italy) What is good for users/disabled people is good for carers/women too (France, Netherlands) Need benign-but-powerful welfare state to offset risks of the market

14 What should Scotland do? Learn from the best Avoid the dangers of the worst What about governance?

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