Towards a Transnational Analysis of the Political Economy of Care
The resurgence of the employment of domestic and care workers in private homes in many industrialised countries over the last two decades has been shaped by important social changes, most notable among this are the increased responsibilities and rights of women across the globe to be both earners and carers. This reflects graduated shifts from the ‘male breadwinner’ to ‘adult worker’ model taking place in many industrialised societies and unemployment and poverty in developing countries. As many of those who carry out this work are migrant women, this reveals the movement of women seeking opportunities created by the changing patterns of post-colonial migration to financially support their families. Such migrations are also structured by the policies developed by states in richer countries. The nature of care regimes in host countries clearly influence take up: where care provision is commodified and where care cultures favour home-based/ surrogate care, then reliance on the low paid end of the private market is more common (Ungerson and Yeandle, 2007; Williams and Gavanas, 2008). At the same time, migration rules construct the legal, social and civil rights of migrants in different ways, in tandem with employment policies that may serve to deregulate the economy and to increase the casualisation of labour. Superimposed on this universe of change is the ongoing reconstitution of social relations of gender, care and domestic service, of hierarchies of ethnicity and nationality, and of differentiated meanings of, and rights to, citizenship. This paper draws on earlier research into migration and home-based care in Europe as a basis for developing a transnational analysis of the political economy of care (Lister et al, 2007, chapter 5; Williams and Gavanas, 2008; Williams, 2007; 2008; Williams, Tobio and Gavanas, 2009; Williams, 2010).
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