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Home Care for Sale

Home Care for Sale
The Transnational Brokering of Senior Care in Europe

Edited by:

February 2024 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The world of senior care provision and care work is changing rapidly.  This collection identifies brokering agencies for live-in care workers as key drivers of this change. Across Europe, these agencies have become powerful players in reshaping welfare systems, transnational care chains and working conditions in care recipients’ households. The four parts in this volume draw together the latest research on live-in home care for seniors in Europe, including: processes of commodification and marketisation, the transnationalisation of care work, the private household as a workplace and workers’ contestation of the live-in care arrangementTogether, they depict far-reaching challenges in care provision and care work.

The brokerage of live-in care work has created transnational care chains and markets that span across Europe. These capitalise on poverty-driven migration and social inequalities between countries. This collection uncovers how these agencies’ business models are based on gender and migration regimes, labour and social policies, and regulations within and between countries. Increasingly, agencies have been trying to shape these regulations in their own interest:they have, therefore, become powerful players in many national economies and welfare systems.

This volume also explores how agency-brokered senior home care provision has become highly contested, analysing the care struggles and labour disputes around both the quality of care and working conditions. We are shown how care workers’ organizations and trade unions have entered the field, raising awareness of the poor working conditions that exist in contrast to the agencies’ promise of delivering good care.

The four parts in this volume each present a specific focus area in the context of senior home care brokering, including the following: processes of commodification and marketization, the transnationalization of care work, the private household as a workplace and the contestation of the live-in care arrangement. Together, they depict far-reaching changes in care provision and care work and the problems that have emerged in this growing sector.  
Introduction — Senior home care for sale: agency-brokered transnational live-in care in Europe
Part I: Care markets, care provision, working conditions, and the role of brokering agencies
Divided Europe? The role of home care agencies from Poland, and how the ideal of decent work gets lost along transnational value chains
Business preferences in long-term care: the case of live-in home care in Ireland
The effectiveness of informal care-work brokering in Italy
Diversification of the senior home care market in Hungary: informality and the operational modes of intermediaries
The ‘good agency’? On the interplay of formalization and informality in the contested marketization of live-in care in Austria
Part II: Transnationality, mobilities, border regimes and global care chains
Multiple interacting migration patterns in senior care on Europe’s semi-periphery
Distorted Emancipation and the Transnational Political Economy of Social Reproduction
‘Care Bonds’ in Times of COVID-19
Transnational migration and brokering agencies in the home care sector in Spain
Part III: Worlds apart: the household as a workplace
‘As I always say, you really need to tame them!’ The working conditions of migrant senior care workers employed by brokering agencies in Belgium
Brokering agencies as managers of conflicts and emotions in live-in senior care
Shaping working hours in the shadow of the law? Experiences of live-in migrant care workers, brokering agencies and family care managers in the Netherlands
Shaping the social and work-related well-being of migrant live-in carers: the ambiguous role of labour market intermediaries in England
At home with the employer? — Contradictory notions of the care client’s home as a workplace and living space
Part IV: Contested labour rights, fair-care initiatives and labour organizing
Ethical comments on the working-time regime of live-in care
Fair care? On the prospects of (and limits to) implementing ‘fairness’ in live-in care
Invisible, yet one of the family? Unravelling the precarious employment conditions of migrant Filipina live-in domestic workers and caregivers in Greece
Breaking out of the ‘prisoner of love’ dilemma: infrastructures of solidarity for live-in care workers in Switzerland
Part V: Afterword
Brokering care migration – a new element in the transnational care worker supply chain

This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the changes in the political economy of care in the XXI century. It offers a compelling combination of classic and cutting-edge approaches that sheds light on the emergence of brokerage and agency intermediation in Europe and provides an excellent variety of examples from different countries and care settings.

Sabrina Marchetti
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

When within a capitalist institutional framework accelerating ageing leads to the crisis of social care and to further transnational marketization of household services 'Home Care for Sale' is an essential reading. The rich empirical and conceptual work points toward an almost encyclopedic outcome, where commodification, marketization, transnationalization, exploitation in care industry is explained in a complex manner within the context of global and local inequalities. This work is performed by a group of amazing critical analysts, who dare to confront some of the key contradictions of our current painful social transformation in European terrains.

Attila Melegh
Hungarian Demographic Research Institute and Institute of Sociology, Corvinus University Budapest

‘Home Care for Sale’ provides an encyclopedic account of the commodification and marketization of transnationally-brokered senior home care provision across Europe, including the UK. It pays close attention to the economic and social inequalities, as well as state policies, that underlie this new migration industry, as well as collective efforts to contest and improve conditions of work and care. ‘Home Care for Sale’ documents the geography of care chains within a divided Europe. This is a geography that both complements and disrupts conventional understandings of international care chains between global north and south. Theoretically and empirically rich, this is a must-read collection for those interested in senior home care, social reproduction, migration, border studies, and the workings and repercussions of neo-liberal state policies.   

Géraldine Pratt
Canada Research Chair in Care Economies and Global Labour, University of British Columbia

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ISBN: 9781529680140