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Precarity and the crisis of social care: everyday politics and experiences of work in women's voluntary organisations

Ehrenstein, Amanda 2012. Precarity and the crisis of social care: everyday politics and experiences of work in women's voluntary organisations. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In the context of shifting public expenditure and related cuts to public services, the Voluntary Sector (VS) has been given a prominent role in the organisation of social care. Government reform agendas in the UK try to thrive on public support for 'empowerment of local communities', more 'voice and choice' for service users, and a discourse of 'partnership' with the VS for implementing policies that imply an increasingly competitive commissioning of sensitive services. This research traces the neocommunitarian turn in neoliberal discourse and develops a critique of the imposed pseudo-marketisation of social care by examining everyday experiences of labour. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork in London's VS. In relation to reports in the sector on the loss of funding for women-only projects and services, it examines the transformation of working conditions and the strategies applied in dealing with the outcomes of reform. The study draws on in-depth interviews with 31 women working for 19 different women's organisations. Additional interviews were conducted with union representatives and officers working for local infrastructure organisations and commissioning bodies in two inner London boroughs, in which the outcomes of commissioning practices for the workforce in the VS were further explored. It is argued that neocommunitarian neoliberalism results in insecure work environments and the institutionalisation of volunteering, which will exacerbate the ongoing crisis of care. While employment in the women's sector has always been precarious – as being short-term, insecure, poorly remunerated and supported by high amounts of volunteering – women reported on a loss of control over the quality and direction of work as well as the imposition of inadequate workloads. This makes it increasingly difficult to endure and resist precarity in social care. It creates harmful work environments and implies a loss of needs-adequate service provision, both traced to intensify existing inequalities along the lines of class, gender and race.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: Cardiff University School of Social Sciences
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2021 08:35

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