Thematic Panel 7: Inequalities and care needs  

Lina Van Aerschot and Teppo Kröger, University of Jyväskylä
Nicola Brimblecombe, London School of Economics and Political Science

Older and disabled people are, in the main, expected to live at home with the help of their families and other informal carers. However, also services and personal assistance are needed. These may be either publicly provided or privately purchased, depending on the national care policies, social policy systems and individual socio-economic resources. The ways in which care and services are organized and allocated may enhance and built equality related to care and assistance –or create inequalities.

Unmet care needs may be related to unavailability of services or informal care, not being aware of or not being able to access services, high prices or other obstacles. Furthermore, care needs may remain unmet when help and assistance is received but they are not extensive enough, the quality is inadequate or they are not provided at the right time. Individual care needs also change over time, sometimes along increasing age and sometimes unexpectedly.

It has been shown, that both socioeconomic background and health status are related to disadvantaged positions regarding care. Unmet care needs have recently also been analyzed using a new concept of care poverty pointing out that it is a societal and political problem.

The institutional settings and temporal development of care systems and care policies are very relevant to this panel as well as the practical level of care arrangements. How are equal rights to care enhanced – or are they? To what extent do policies and service arrangements promote equality? What is the role of informal and unpaid care in decreasing or, on the contrary, creating or maintaining inequality? Have there been changes over time – has inequality increased or decreased –  including during the time of COVID-19 measures and recovery?

This thematic panel calls for presentations dealing with inequalities in care. We welcome especially papers that connect inequalities related to care with wider questions, changes and temporal aspects of social and public policy. The topics may be related to social inequalities among older or disabled people or between different age groups, or to unmet needs, care poverty, vulnerable positions, inadequate care and different mechanisms that lead to a disadvantaged position or terms of having care needs met.

Thematic Panel 6: Professionalizing or de-professionalizing care work embedded in the changing institutional setting of elderly care

Hildegard Theobald, University of Vechta
Hanne Marlene Dahl, Roskilde University

Elderly care is undergoing major, complex transformation with commodification of care, new discourses on active ageing/rehabilitation and new technologies as well as the increasing role of migrants. We want to investigate how these processes and changes affect – and interact with – the idea of professional carers, distinct professional projects and the role of the state. Active ageing might present a possibility for professionalizing/the professionalism of some groups, whereas marketization might pull in the opposite direction i.e. de-professionalizing elderly care. And what about new technologies? Simultaneously the theoretical terrain is changing with new understandings questioning the traditional view of professions and their characteristics by introducing the notion of professionalism (Fournier, 1999; Henriksson/Wrede/Burau, 2006; Evetts, 2011) and the role of various forms of knowledge in elderly care.

In this section we welcome papers on policy developments and their interaction with processes of professionalizing/professionalism and de-professionalizing in one country or in a cross-country comparison as well as more theoretically based papers concerned with elderly care/ the social imagination of the ‘fourth age’. The theme refers to professions/occupations groups that are exclusively geared towards the oldest old and professions/occupations groups that only deal with the oldest old as part of their work. The relevant fields are health- and social services provided in various spheres of society. We especially welcome papers investigating the role of the state in processes of professionalizing and de-professionalizing, state strategies and rationalities, the role of markets and of paid care work within the family context in creating an image of professionalism.

Thematic Panel 5: Conflicts and compromises between temporalities of care work and temporalities of employment 

Annie DUSSUET, Université de Nantes
Francesca Alice VIANELLO, University of Padua

Many studies have shown the specificities and diversity of the temporality of care activities, whatever the type of care may be concerned. The time needed for care is sometimes that of urgency and immediacy. But it is sometimes also a stretched time, without precise limits, supposing “to take one’s time”, it can then be confused with a simple presence. It is also a time of “permanent availability”, forcing the care-giver to react just in time, at the precise moment when the care-receiver needs help. Conversely, employment time has been formatted by industrialisation processes, enclosed within precise limits, appearing to be predictable and measurable. In addition, employment time’s measure is equated with remuneration. These characteristics are opposed to the temporalities of care work. When care emerges from informality and is carried out by paid workers, as employees or self- employed, the time of care work risks to become invisible and care workers to be less paid.

This thematic panel will examine the effects of the confrontation between these different temporalities. Do care temporalities determine employment conditions? How do the temporalities of employment modify care work? What compromises are made? By which actors and through which debates?

The panel will bring together papers presenting different disciplinary approaches exploring some of these questions in different national, economic, social, institutional and legal contexts and engaging different care publics : young children, disabled or elderly people… They may question, for example, the differences between institutional and individual temporalities, the way through which different actors make their own approaches to temporalities, the struggles engaged on this subject, as well as the way in which compromises are made. What are the costs of these compromises, and at the expenses of whom are they?

Thematic Panel 4: Transforming Care Policies in Light of Global COVID-19 Pandemic: Different Welfare Regimes, Different Paths?

Alexandra Kaasch and Cansu Erdogan, University of Bielefeld

This session addresses the questions of whether and how different welfare regimes and degrees of familialism affect COVID-19 measures related to long-term care policies. We aim to bring together scholars from comparative welfare state and long-term care research to understand and discuss transformations in care policies in different countries in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. While the global COVID-19 pandemic currently has a serious effect on anybody’s life, it has been particularly hard on vulnerable people under long-term care in care homes. In addition to already existing deep-rooted problems in long-term care, this new infectious disease has already caused many elderly people losing their lives in care homes – partly caused by staff shortages, inadequate safety measures and infection prevention.

Countries responded with different sorts of measures to this ever-growing problem. In this session, we ask whether these policy responses are path-dependent and how related measures can be understood with reference to welfare state regime types. We also would like to go beyond the three worlds of welfare capitalism and discuss papers from different parts of the world. In this way, we aim to have a broader understanding of the patterns of transforming care policies in times of COVID-19 pandemic from a comparative perspective.

Thematic Panel 3: Time in disability policies and in support for disabled people in different care regimes

Yueh-Ching Chou, National Yang-Ming University
Teppo Kröger, University of Jyväskylä

This thematic panel focuses on the development of disability policies and the role of time in it. Last 50 years have seen huge changes concerning the inclusion of disabled people in society as equal citizens: in the 1960s the North American independent living movement and in the 1970s the social model of disability in the UK both led to new global perspectives of disability (e.g., ICF of WHO and UNCRPD) and social care reforms, especially to personal assistance and personalisation of social care that have become the mainstream of formal support or integrated with homecare in some European countries in the 1990s and in some Pacific and Asian countries in the 2000s. On the other hand, however, still after a half of a century of independent living movement, limited public resources restrict the realisation of these policy changes in many countries. Even in a welfare state like Sweden, provisions of personal assistance are currently being cut down. It has thus become clear that the development of disability policies does not necessarily mean continuous progress. Backlashes are also possible and actually taking place, leading disabled people to lose their hard-won independence.

Temporality and change are a key feature of disability policies. What can we learn from the debates on disability and social care policies and the impacts of these policies on disabled people in different welfare states when we focus our look on the meaning of time? To what extent and how are disabled people supported by different care and disability policies and care work and personal assistance, including both formal and informal support systems and migrant care workers, and what are their impacts on the lives of disabled people and formal/informal carers/assistants? There is now also a need to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people, comparing it with the impact on non-disabled people. What does the pandemic as a sudden rupture in time reveal of disability policies? And what can we learn from disabled people’s experiential knowledge who in some societies have faced restrictions and isolation not just during the pandemic but during their entire life course?

This thematic panel aims at contributing to the above issues and questions from the perspectives of global policy, equality, and critical disability studies addressing the impact of time in social care policies and services on disabled people and related groups (e.g. family/friends, formal care workers, migrant care workers).

Thematic Panel 2: ECEC services after covid-19: searching to combine sustainability, safety, quality

Stefania Sabatinelli and Marta Cordini, Politecnico di Milano

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has had inevitable serious impacts on ECEC services all over the world, linked to their relational nature. Both in professional and in informal settings, in fact, ECEC services consist of the fact that young children spend time with specifically dedicated adults and, in most cases, with their peers. The early age of children then implies that closeness and intimacy play a pivotal role in this relational dimension. The need of physical distancing caused in most countries the closing up of ECEC services, together with schools, already before the general lockdown was introduced. The re-opening of ECEC services has followed differentiated paths and timings in the different countries (or regions).

The most immediately visible entailments concerned the hard work-family balance for those parents whose work was not suspended during the lockdown, either in the workplace or in home-working, who were obliged to carry out their professional and childcare activities in the same place, at the same time. Besides, the exceptional and unprecedented situation brought about by the interruption of activity first and by the need to adapt the services’ organization to new safety criteria soon after, has had severe implications for the ECEC services systems themselves. In particular, the balance between the need of containing virus spreading and the pedagogical needs of children is challenging the usual design of ECEC services. The panel particularly seeks to deepen two broad dimensions:

  1. Sustainability and management issues, for public bodies, private providers and services’ workers, connected to the lack of revenues in the lockdown months and to the need to cope with new procedures to limit the risk of contagion and allow tracing, which all increase costs while generally reducing profitability (e.g. reduction of the adult-children ratio and of the children admitted per sqmt, increased expenses for cleaning and protection devices, etc.), and often translate into a reorganization of opening hours (as well as of space), that impacts on the care time that can be ensured.
  2. Educational and quality issues, related to the need to prevent the regression of childcare to mere custodial functions, in contrast with the social investment principles, that value the temporal perspective of individual and collective returns expected in the future for financial investments in educational policies. There is a fundamental necessity to avoid that the new safety and protection procedures hinder the didactic value of ECEC services and to rather elaborate a sense-making thought to innovate pedagogic protocols usefully integrating such procedures.

More in general, the pandemic has exacerbated the uncertainty conditions in which it is necessary to operate to manage care services. The compression of the dimension of time in the decision-making processes also needs to be taken into account when analyzing the reorganization of ECEC services after the outburst of covid-19.

The panel welcomes papers reflecting on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the ECEC services in one specific context or comparing more than one national or regional/local case. Particularly welcome are papers that combine empirical evidence with theoretical reflections.

Thematic Panel 1: Intersectionality in Care

Simone Leiber, University of Duisburg-Essen
Hildegard Theobald, University of Vechta

The concept of intersectionality has become an important paradigm in gender and care studies. Instead of merely adding up discriminatory effects based on different structural categories, theorists of intersectionality underline the interwoven nature of these categories, and how they can mutually reinforce, but also counterbalance each other (Crenshaw 1989). The conception of intersectionality is often used to analyse the interdependence of class, gender, and ethnicity, but allows also for the integration of other socially defined categories like e.g. sexuality, age, health status, nationality or disability. Theoretical and methodological reasoning on intersectionality has significantly expanded in different disciplinary contexts. In particular (comparative) empirical studies are, however, rather rare, and methodological as well as theoretical discussions are all but completed.
In this thematic panel we seek to explicitly relate research discussions on intersectionality to the care field, and to questions of temporality in care. How do interactions between differentiating categories develop in a care situation? How do we measure and analyse inequalities in care through this analytical lens – be it from the perspective of formal or informal caregivers, or care recipients? What is the role of care policies in either reinforcing or counterbalancing such inequalities? These topics imply to take into account also important aspects of temporality in care. We assume, e.g., that the division of time for care and for work differs considerably according to class, gender, ethnicity and other social lines, and that intersectional inequalities evolve along the life-course.
The thematic panel seeks to enhance international exchange on theoretical or methodological questions, as well as empirical results on intersectionality in care. We invite (comparative) studies from different care fields (childcare, eldercare, self-care …), and different regional contexts across the world to enhance our knowledge.