At the Intersection of Urban- and Care-Policy : On the Invisibility of Eldercare Workers in the Global City

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:45
Oral Presentation
Feng XU, University of Victoria, Canada
Kendra STRAUSS, Simon Fraser University, Canada
The global population is both urbanizing and ageing. This means that urbanization is a set of processes and logics coeval with demographic change and relations of social reproduction. Nevertheless, while feminist urban scholars have drawn much-needed attention to reproduction/care, care scholars have often neglected the urban in research on the spatial contexts of these problems. At the same time, a productivist bias in urban policies, reconstructed in the rhetoric of the global city/creative cities, makes workers invisible and denies care needs. This issue is exacerbated by normative approaches, for example grounded in gendered ideologies of home, care and familial responsibility, that too often detach the delicate social problem of eldercare from the feasibility and desirability of eldercare as a site for paid labour. Such norms and ideologies may share common features but are also historical and geographical. Analyses of eldercare policy contexts and mobilities often unproblematically read off Eurocentric scripts that assume particular histories of state provision and decommodification at the nexus of the state, the market and the family. And yet, not only does place matter in understanding the intersection of urban and care policies – and their implications for care workers and care recipients – but the differences between places matter. In this sense, policy discourses about urban change and demographic change share some important blind spots. Making paid eldercare workers visible through comparative research on urban contexts thus contributes to wider policy-relevant research themes: precarious employment, urban neoliberalization and precarity (notably in relation to housing and transport), and the social dimensions of urban sustainability. It also contributes to “experiments” in comparative urbanism that are “inspired by efforts to cast comparison as holding the potential to move beyond many of the ethnocentric assumptions currently embedded in urban theory.