Symposium 3- Possibilities for care convoys: imaginative and diverse conversations

Convenors: Jayanthi Lingham Centre for Care, University of Sheffield
and Chloe Alexander Centre for Care, University of Birmingham

This symposium will develop and provoke enquiries on care convoys. Existing literature defines a care convoy as “the evolving collection of individuals who may or may not have close personal connections to the recipient or to one another, but who provide care… including help with daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, socio-emotional care, skilled health care, monitoring, and advocacy” (Kemp et al 2013: 18). This extends Kahn and Antonucci’s (1980) ‘convoy models of social relations’, which posits that individuals are embedded in dynamic networks of close personal relationships (convoys) that serve as “vehicles through which social support is distributed or exchanged” (Antonucci 1985: 96). The approach understands care as relational, recognises care recipients as active agents within their own care and support and reflects the complex and dynamic nature through the life course of both care needs and networks. In addition to the temporal dimension, social, political and economic contexts – such as shifting gender roles and welfare state retrenchment – can also transform the structure of care convoys. Against this backdrop, there is much scope to further develop the framework. This symposium brings scholars together to do so, in the context of transitions wrought by contemporary shifts in boundaries and enduring global crises. The contributing papers will provoke both broad and specific conversations. How do we apply and extend the care convoys model? How to constructively problematise the framework and address gaps in empirical research? What role do digital technologies play in shaping care convoys? What are the policy implications of understanding care relations and change through the care convoys framework? The discussant(s) will offer insights on the care convoys model and its relevance for how we understand practices of care. Together, these papers and the discussion will situate the care convoys model in the context of urgent debates about the sustainability of, equity within, and possibilities for care.

Paper 1: Changes in care networks due to the COVID-19 pandemic: application of the care convoys model Authors: Deborah Lambotte, Nico De Witte & Benedicte De Koker (University College Ghent/HOGENT). Symposium presenter: Deborah Lambotte Outline: As the care convoy model indicates, care networks are evolutive. Events may cause care networks to change, and changes can be inherent to the structure, function, and adequacy of one’s care network. In the paper, we explore this theory in depth, using findings from a quantitative survey we conducted in 2020 in Belgium, regarding informal carers’ experiences of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paper 2: Exploring migrants’ experiences of care through a transnational convoy of care lens Authors and symposium presenters: Kelly Hall (University of Birmingham) and Majella Kilkey (University of Sheffield) Outline: In this paper, we explore the lives of two different groups of migrants as they age in place: retired British migrants in Spain and post-war Caribbean, Irish and Polish migrants in Britain. We draw on and combine two theoretical frameworks to understand the intersection of migration and care: ‘transnational ageing’ and ‘convoys of care’. We suggest that older migrants are embedded in a ‘transnational convoy of care’; a concept that can enable us to understand migrant care experiences more effectively.

Paper 3: Digitising the care convoy: technology and the social relations of care Authors and symposium presenters: Kate Hamblin and Grace Whitfield (Centre for Care, University of Sheffield) Outline: This paper will explore the role of digital technologies in care convoys – how they are used and how they may alter care by facilitating certain tasks, connections and ‘sociality’ (Austin, 2020) but also create new responsibilities, tensions and risks. In doing so, we will draw on literatures only examining transnational care convoys and technology (Fuller et al., 2020), and related concepts such as ‘digital kinning’ (Baldassar & Wilding, 2020), ‘techno-emotional mediation’ (Alinejad, 2021) and silence and ‘communication voids’ (Sampaio, 2020), as well as literature from Science and Technology Studies which engages with issues of power (Akrich and Latour, 1992).

Paper 4: The (im)possibilities of care convoys Authors and symposium presenters: Chloe Alexander (University of Birmingham) and Jayanthi Lingham (University of Sheffield)
Outline: The care convoys model challenges us to conceptualise exchanges of support through time and to grapple with understanding the changes these caring relationships undergo. The paper presents four critiques that question in turn the discursive, conceptual, experiential and methodological components of the care convoys model. We discuss whether these indicate a restricted potential of the model or rather, signal a need to broaden participants and subjects in the debate about the content, relevance and policy implications of care convoys.

Discussant(s) will be 1-2 people who will offer comments and insights on the papers based on their research expertise in care, practices of care and social and global networks of care. They are yet to be confirmed but we have identified as potential discussants: Dr Candace Kemp (Georgia State University, USA), Prof Toni Antonucci (University of Michigan, USA), and Prof Rianne Mahon (Wilfred Laurier University, Canada). Their availability to participate will be confirmed over the coming months.