Thematic Panel 9 – Care as a labour market: Care occupations and professions between quality and contractual arrangements

Thematic Panel 9

Care as a labour market: Care occupations and professions between quality and contractual arrangements

Conveners and Discussants:

Emmanuele Pavolini, Professor of University of Macerata, Italy, and Margarita León, Professor of Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Spain

Most studies on social care have traditionally focused on its impact on users (e.g. service provision, access, costs, etc.). Less attention has been given to the characteristics of the “supply side”: the workers who provide care (either to elderly people or people with disabilities or to children). So far, the attention on the supply side of social care has mainly focused on migrant care workers and in respect to this specific segment of the care labour force there is an increasing literature. However, many other workers employed in social care services have received quite less attention, especially in a comparative perspective: teachers and educators in nurseries and kindergartens, workers in formal services in home and residential care (from nursing homes personnel to home care assistants to doctors working mostly with frail elderly people, to social workers).

The quality of social care depends deeply by the professional qualification of these workers and the jobs’ conditions that are offered to them. Therefore, studying more the quality and quantity of the “supply side” of social care is a way to enrich substantially our understating of how social care works and how effective it can be in sustaining users and their families.

The thematic panel welcomes papers that focus on these workers employed in social care services (in child care or elderly care), and of course migrant care ones, in several ways: labour conditions (contracts, etc.), contents of tasks performed, quantitative variations in different type of workers’ profiles and their impacts (e.g. has the increase availability of migrant care workers in several countries “crowded out” other types of occupations and professions in social care?) and how these characteristics change over time.

The panel is related to two main themes of the conference: Institutional setting of care systems and care policies and Formal and informal care work

Papers can focus on single countries or adopt a comparative perspective. The stream is also open to scholars adopting a sociology of professions’ approach, a (sociological and economics) labour market studies’ approach and/or paying attention to the politics of regulation of the conditions of workers employed in social care services.