Thematic Panel 17: The changing meaning of informal care

Barbara Da Roit, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

The balance between public and private care responsibilities in the provision and funding of care for older people is high in the political agenda across Western countries. A long-standing debate exists on the effects of the expansion of formal care on the provision of informal care. More recently, policy makers attempted to “refamilialize” care or to reinforce informal care, while research has started to look at the effects of such policies.
Notwithstanding differences in cross-country policy trajectories, we can detect a number of shared assumptions in these debates: (a) care is seen as a fixed/given set of responsibilities and tasks that can be allocated to different actors; (b) family and community care belong to a common past of Western societies; (c) the welfare state, when able to provide universally accessible care services, reduced or changed the role of family care; (c) family care in weaker welfare states is endangered by socio-demographic developments and is turning to an unprecedented crisis that reverses its traditional strength.
Yet, our knowledge of the extent, nature and forms of informal care and its relationship with formal and market care is more based on comparative research than on historical accounts. Little is known of the practices and experiences of informal caregiving in the past.
This thematic panel welcomes papers with a socio-historical approach to the study of informal care (and of the relationship to other forms of care). It focuses on changes in (elder)care practices, visions, understanding, framing in relation to economic, political, demographic and technological change.
Relevant papers tackle:

  • The changing organization of informal care and its relationship to formal care provision
    The changing visions of care by formal care professions and professionals
    The changing narratives of informal care and intergenerational support by caregivers and people cared
    The changing media accounts and representations of informal care and intergenerational support
    The changing representations of care in the arts

Research should preferably consider eldercare, but contributions on intergenerational relations and care at large will be considered.
The historical time(s) taken into account may vary according to the specific research question/hypothesis and the social, political, economic development of the context considered.
Cross-disciplinary approaches (history, sociology, literature, art and media studies) are welcome. Historical accounts of western and non-western contexts are of interest for the thematic panel.

Thematic Panel 13: Time to care: critical perspectives on “fast policy regimes” and anticipatory techniques in care policy

Carlotta Mozzana, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Davide Caselli, Università degli Studi di Torino

The session aims to tackle the issue of time in care by focusing on two trends: a) the increasing speed by which policy frames and policy tools are elaborated and circulate globally; b) the policy-makers’ ambition to shape and control the future through the use of anticipative tools based on quantitative data and knowledge (e.g. social impact metrics).
Contemporary public action is embedded into a complex global fast policy regime (Theodore, Peck 2015), based on increasingly globally interconnected policy communities that create a complex temporality of policy transfer. This regime is made on the one hand of fast circulation and adoption of policy frames and tools through the widespread reference to international best practices and benchmarking; and on the other of slow, gradual and path-dependent adaptations to the local socio- institutional context. This is true also for care policies and services, where new actors (with their policy frames and the informational bases upon which they rely) have emerged and contribute to reshape policies and practices.
But time is important here not only for qualifying the speed of such circulation but also as a specific dimension embedded into the policies and practices themselves. In order to reduce uncertainty and to justify public spending in the field of welfare, care policies are increasingly based on predictive and anticipative techniques such as assessment and evaluation metrics that project actual actions in the future.
The session invites empirical and theoretical papers dealing with these two specific problems of temporality in the field of care policies. Interesting contributions may include (but are not limited to):
• Analysis of the elaboration and circulation of policy frames and policy tools in specific policy areas (e.g. active ageing; home care; social impact assessment): who are the actors involved in the process and what kind of temporality does this circulation involve?
• the making of a global Fast Policy Regime in the field of care (e.g. analysis of specific policy and epistemic communities operating at the global level; analysis of local and national networks of expertise mediating global trends, etc);
• the analysis of the logics of care that are promoted through the use of anticipatory, pre- visional, impact-oriented tools in the realm of care policy. How do such tools promote specific logics of action? How do they modify existing logics and practices of care?
• Analysis of the conflicts taking place into the Fast (care) policy regime: emerging forms resistance and elaboration of alternative/new/different paradigms and informational bases for care policies and services.

Thematic Panel 12: Transforming what? Unpaid carers and family care of children and adults in systems in transition

Agnes Turnpenny, TÁRKI and University of Kent
Gábor Petri, TÁRKI

Although the institutionalisation of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities has received considerable attention in policy and research across the world, the majority of people with intellectual disabilities live with their families in the community, often with little or no formal support and experiencing high levels of social exclusion and deprivation. This panel aims to bring together empirical and policy research that explores how care practices and policies have changed across historical time and future directions. We welcome analytical and descriptive papers that address any of the following topics from a historical or longitudinal/life-course perspective:

– How policies supporting family caregiving have changed over time?

– What are the current policies supporting family caregiving and unpaid carers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities? What are the implications of these for their socio-economic status at different stages of the life-course?

– How do family carers mobilise formal and informal resources to support the person with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the life course? What are the lived experiences of unpaid family caregiving? How has this changed over time?

We welcome papers from any region or context; however, we are particularly interested in submissions that focus on systems in transition, the ‘former communist bloc countries’ in Eastern Europe and the Global South, as well as comparative research.

Thematic Panel 11: Family Foster vs Institutional Care: The Achilles Heel of Out-of-Home Care for Children?

Teresa Martín García, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

An adverse childhood often results in children being placed in state custody, and these children are generally named as children in out-of-home care. Residential care is typically known as a group home or institutional care in which professional caregivers are responsible for the day-to- day care and well-being of these children. In contrast, family foster care encompasses figures of parents in private families who are entrusted with the care of these children (Li, Chng & Chu 2019). One or another care choice will permeate, in different forms and meanings, the entire life course of these children in out-of-home care. In general, foster care is found to benefit some children and be more beneficial for children than institutional care. In fact, it is a well-stylized fact that foster care is a crucial intervention to reduce the adverse effects following early deprivation and that children placed in family foster care show better-off later life behavioral and psychosocial outcomes as compared to those in residential homes.

While there is abundant social care and care policy research focusing on early childhood education and childcare, we know very little about children in out-of-home care. For instance, how practice and policy concerning substitute care for children have changed across historical time? How can they be foreseen in the future? We may be seeing evidence for a transition from systems being clearly dominated by residential care to others almost exclusively or heavily reliant on family placement (Ireland). Yet, the majority of the countries are in development and some even take a step back: in Spain, institutionalized children overcome those entering foster care since 2018.

Linked with the Conference theme (time and temporality), the aim of this panel is to critically analyze state custody in varying societal contexts and change across time with respect to the potentially (un)equal outcomes for children. We encourage contributions from around the world that investigate care practice and policy for children in out-of-home care, a question that has received scarce attention in care regimes analyses. Which placement type best serves a child as well as who is best suited to take care of a child? We encourage contributions that identify which aspects of residential care carry benefits and which carry risks. Special attention will also be paid to the associations between placement and child outcomes, which can vary as a function of the timing and duration of placement(s) and movements between them. We appreciate papers addressing care-related risks, policies and intervention over the life course to account for the accumulation of (dis)advantages and the specific needs of children in substitute care. Studies that compare short vs. medium and long-term outcomes for children who live in family foster and residential care settings are very welcome. So are those comparing their opportunities and outcomes to family-reared children.

Thematic Panel 10: Care Work in the Household under Time Pressure: Coping Strategies and Precarious Time Frames?

Tanja Carstensen and Almut Peukert, University of Hamburg

Conditions for care work at home – the everyday formal, semi-formal and informal practices by which support is provided within the household for children, elderly, partners, and oneself in order to maintaining livelihood – have changed fundamentally in recent years. Reasons among others are increased women’s employment rates, deliminiation of ‘paid work’ and  ‘life’, work intensification, higher mobility, new gender arrangements, and the higher need to elderly care. These transformations have a clear temporal dimension, they are connected with the organization and perception of time within families closely: Time pressure has become a key issue in the everyday life of balancing between paid work and the demands caused by childcare, elder care, care for partners and oneself. In the proposed session, we seek to analyze the question how time for care around and within the home is negotiated within different (gendered) familial arrangements and invite contributions addressing this question from intersectional perspectives, different levels (micro, meso, macro), different stages of life (childcare, care for disabled, elder care) as well as different strategies and their effects (politics, organizational or individual level). This may include, for example, the analysis of workplace arrangements, digital offers (platforms, apps), policy developments (e.g. care policies, social investment), as well as familial negotiations and strategies from intersectional perspectives connected to care provision within domestic settings. Potential questions are: (How) is the problem of time pressure framed by different actors? Who is addressed, who is excluded? What kind of transformations can be observed? Which strategies, measures, practices can be identified? What is their time frame? How is time pressure managed, which strategies are chosen and how are they legitimized? Which viable and organizational strategies offer opportunities and are used to cope with the time pressure?

Thematic Panel 9: Long-term care in life course perspective: novel theoretical and empirical findings 

Andrej Srakar and Maša Filipovič Hrast, University of Ljubljana

The session builds on a theoretical premise that different early life experiences produce different family, health and economic outcomes in older age. One of the perspectives of observing and analysing the various aspects of lives of older persons is the life course perspective that interprets the level of activity in later life in view of the individual’s lifestyle and activities during earlier life (Elder, 1994; Settersten, 2003; Elder, Johnson and Crosnoe, 2004; Victor, 2013). Apart from differences in the lives of individuals, the social context – unique historical events and periods of social changes within which an individual ages strongly shape the course of ageing and older age (Danneferand and Settersten Jr., 2010; Settersten and Gannon, 2005). Differences in individual well-being accumulate over time, further intensifying in later life (Di Prete and Eirich, 2006).

This session focuses on life course approach to understanding care arrangements and the decisions taken by family members to provide care to older people. We invite papers that advance our understanding of the life course, with specific transitions in life, cumulative processes and how life courses within family intertwine and affect decision for care and specific care arrangements. The focus is on quantitative approaches, in particular using SHARE data and its retrospective panel perspective (Brugiavini et al., 2013; 2019), but we will also accept qualitative oriented papers. We welcome innovative approaches to different topics, novel methodological solutions (say, using stochastic processes to study year transitions in retrospective panels; or innovative causality perspectives) but also broad and comprehensive theoretical, historical and overview papers.

Thematic Panel 8: Imagining an Alternative Future: Collaborative Housing as an Option for Aging and Caring

María Offenhenden, Rovira i Virgili University
Nina Navajas-Pertegás, University of Valencia

Against the backdrop of the progressive aging of society, changing family patterns and gender roles, and the resulting care deficit, a plethora of community-centered housing alternatives are emerging as an option for a new generation of seniors that express different ideas and demands on how to age. They reject passivity and solitude associated to institutional and home-care settings, and pursue aging in a community model based on active participation and citizenship.
The values of solidarity and mutual aid are usually at the core of these initiatives, providing new elements for the social organization of care, currently marked by deep social and gender inequalities in the provision and access to care. The importance given to personal autonomy, participatory management, and/or collective decision-making about the organization and use of time and space in everyday life are all elements that enable the configuration of alternative settings for aging and caring. These factors challenge the domestic/institutional and private/public divide in care arrangements and result in new ways of interaction amongst the family, the state, the market, and civil society in care provision for the elderly, broadening the possibilities of aging and caring in alternative ways.
The aim of the panel is to extend social research debates about community care, focusing on the needs and desires of older people and how do they appropriate, perceive and shape care. In order to move in this direction, we welcome theoretical and empirical papers addressing the experiences of seniors forming and/or living in the myriad of community-centered housing projects (communal housing, co-housing, collaborative housing, collective housing, etc.), taking into account its multiple modalities (self-managed, co-managed with private or public partners, etc.; senior, multigenerational or intergenerational), in different national contexts and diverse care provision systems. We intend to discuss the potentialities, tensions and contradictions involved in these alternative housing models for older people in regards to universalizing access to care, the redistribution of resources and the curbing of social and gender inequalities, highlighting the dis/continuities with the aging-in-place and institutional care models. We will also consider papers analyzing the impact of the Covid-19 sanitary crisis in these ventures.

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?