Erosion of the Boundaries Between Public and Private New Forms of Care Work in European Welfare States

Monday, July 14, 2014: 7:30 PM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Birgit PFAU-EFFINGER , Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

The paper discusses the ways in which changes in the structures of care work in European welfare states can be analysed and explained. So far, concepts of dual terms predominate with regard to the concept of care, in terms of the comparison between public and private and between paid formal care and unpaid informal care. According to such thinking, care work takes either place in the private sector where it is informal and unpaid, or it takes place in the public sector where it is formal and paid. It is argued here that the clear embedding of care work into one of the two spheres can easily become a conceptual cul-de-sac and tends to hinder the recognition of changes concerning the informal care work itself.

Welfare states have established new, paid forms of semi-formal and formal care work within the family household. This change has led to an erosion of the boundaries between the two spheres. These new forms are also connected with a new type of social rights. It is argued that in order to capture this change appropriately, change of care work can no longer be viewed as a change within a dualistic model; as a shift from private to public care, or as a formalisation of care. Instead it must be understood as a multidimensional change.

In the paper, a conceptual approach for analyses will be introduced. Moreover, it will analyse the development of the new forms of paid semi-formal and formal care work in childcare and care for senior citizens in Europe in a cross-national comparative perspective. Finally also it will explain the development with social change and cultural change.