6th Transforming Care Conference- Sheffield

Boundaries, Transitions and Crisis Contexts

June 26-28th 2023,  The University of Sheffield, UK

2023 conference theme:

Around the world, care in all its forms – of children, of adults with disabilities and of frail older people – is becoming increasingly challenging, visible and important. In focusing on boundaries, transitions and crisis contexts, we hope the 2023 Transforming Care Conference will bring together recent research evidence and new thinking on how critical contemporary changes are affecting who provides care, of what kinds, and at which stages in their life; the circumstances in which care is provided and experienced; and the outcomes and consequences of that care for different social actors.

Boundaries: How people experience care is affected by boundaries of multiple kinds. Geographical boundaries include national borders, subject to increasingly complex immigration controls, and local boundaries that shape eligibility or access to support or services. Social divisions can create boundaries too:  between paid and unpaid carers; between those who provide and who need/receive care; and between those deemed eligible for publicly-funded support or able, or expected, to pay privately for the care they need. Such boundaries influence who provides and who receives care of different kinds, with unequal and potentially enduring effects on financial, subjective and relational wellbeing.

Transitions: Across their lives, people experience care as something they need, experience and provide in many different and evolving ways. Transitions in how the experience of care is shaped and experienced reflect natural processes of growth and ageing; differences in how services and supports are administered and arranged; and decisions or choices made about care, often in constrained or urgent situations. Here we hope research and ideas about the life course effects of care and caring, and decisions about when, and to whom, support is offered or denied can be discussed, problematised and debated.

Crisis contexts: In the 2000s the world has been shaken by major crises of public health and of the global financial system and international relations; and by conflict and war affecting many millions of people.

  • Responses to the global Covid-19 pandemic have included: restrictions on in-person contact and gatherings; closure of nurseries, schools and care services; confinement of people to their homes; and bans on travel and visiting isolated, dying or suffering loved ones. This forced people with care needs, and in paid and unpaid caring roles, into new and challenging situations with many and varied effects. We aim to debate these, and how they have been affected by economic, housing and employment circumstances and by family situation, gender, disability and ethnicity, as well as to explore altered ways of providing and enacting care that emerged during, and as a response to, the pandemic.
  • In many global contexts – including in Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Ukraine – ongoing conflict, war and civil unrest have forced people into new forms of reliance upon one another, including the care and support of strangers. People have been separated from caring relations or support arrangements on which they have long relied. Many families, friends and loved ones have been dispersed or separated, while others have had to rely upon and to care for each other in unprecedented ways and circumstances.
  • Even in countries less affected by conflict, or that are attempting to ‘return to normal’ following the early waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, arrangements for care and caring are often under longstanding or growing pressures: increased demand; rising costs, affecting public spending or budgets allocated to care, with uneven effects on individuals; systems of support stretched to their limits, or inadequately connected to other forms of support or welfare. We hope the conference will also debate the deep roots of these issues, considering solutions and remedies for them at different levels – familial; local, national; and international – and from different conceptual, theoretical and disciplinary perspectives.

As always, TCC will also offer an open stream for new thinking and research outside the selected conference theme, and be open to the presentation of new ideas, theories and methods that take forward international debate and scholarship on care in all its human forms.

Sue Yeandle, University of Sheffield