Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Care Work between Individualization, Globalization and Socialization

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.03.00  Humanities  Anthropology   

Code Science Field
S215  Social sciences  Social problems and welfare, national insurance 

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
care economies, welfare systems and social services, demographic decline, care deficit, gender, migration, globalization, complex inequalities
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28195  PhD Veronika Bajt  Social sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  235 
2.  24767  MSc Mojca Frelih  Social sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2017  174 
3.  18944  PhD Majda Hrženjak  Anthropology  Head  2014 - 2017  345 
4.  28994  PhD Živa Humer  Social sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  244 
5.  27894  PhD Neža Kogovšek Šalamon  Law  Researcher  2016 - 2017  377 
6.  18606  PhD Vesna Leskošek  Criminology and social work  Researcher  2014 - 2017  963 
7.  20544  Irena Salmič    Technical associate  2014 - 2017 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0366  Peace Institute  Ljubljana  5498295000  3,581 
2.  0591  University of Ljubljana, Faculty for Social Work  Ljubljana  1627147  10,451 
Starting points Poststrial societies are facing care deficit because of population aging, fertility decline, changes in structure and dynamics of post-modern families and participation of women in labor. Social policies react to these trends by deregulation and privatization of social services. These processes impact reorganization of care economies which is taking a direction of commodification, individualization and globalization of care. Despite resources put into public social care system most of the care is done by families, especially 35 to 64 years old women in their working period. However, support ratio of women is decreasing due to aging and due to more active and longer participation of women on the labor market fostered by employment policies. In spite of that policy makers aim to increase privatization of care because of expected high costs of care services. These contradictions represent a challenge to sustainability of care economies, which appears in »outsourcing« of care work to informal paid care workers as an strategy of filling in the care gap across Europe, including Slovenia.   Definition of problem The project explores the shifting responsibilities within the provision of welfare, highlighting two shifts across different welfare regimes: first, from socialization to privatization and globalization of care, i.e. from public welfare provision to private arrangements; second, a shift from care delivery by unpaid (female) family members to paid care workers, migrant or local unemployed women moonlighting in private homes. The inadequate policy responses to socio-demographic trends have led to a paradox: a part of the care workers who provide crucial welfare services – care for children, elderly and disabled – are increasingly excluded from the formal labor market, social security and welfare state institutions, while users mitigate between modest care allowances (cash for care) and growing needs on deregulated care markets.   Project objectives The project will explore the invisible informal care sector in Slovenia, focusing on paid care workers in grey economy (migrants and locals, women and men), family carers and users. Besides child care it will include care for elderly and disabled which have been under-researched as yet. This empirical survey will be complemented by analysis of cultural, structural and institutional preconditions for emergence of local and global care chains. Project will establish new strategic knowledge on regional and global care economies for designing policies of integration of informal care into a changing social organization of care economies. By that it will contribute to development of welfare system, higher social security, better quality of services and regulated working conditions for care workers.     Research methods The research will be conducted simultaneously on three levels and will aim at the analysis of their interactions: 1. Micro analysis will include everyday practices, experiences, strategies and needs of informal care workers; 2. Meso analysis will include institutional, cultural, political, economic and historic factors that frame lived care practices and strategies; 3. Macro analysis will check the influence and presence of globalization of care work in Slovenia. At micro level individual problem focused interviews will be conducted with all stakeholders of individual/family »configuration of care«. At meso level, the method of contextual research of nationally specific but internationally comparative indicators of care, work and migration regimes will be employed, apart from indicators of national specific »care configuration«, and discursive analysis of how meanings of care are constructed in society. At the macro level, individual interviews with migrant care workers in private households will be carried out and analyzed form the perspective of transnational political economy of care.
Significance for science
The project developed new knowledge about the contemporary care economies, formal and informal, and about the connectedness of care deficit and its management in contemporary societies with questions of demographic trends, shifts in social policies, conditions of gender equality, global and local structural inequalities, migration and globalization through following points: - by articulation of the concept of local care chains (dimension, structure, characteristics, causes, advantages and deficiencies) distinctive of Slovenia, in relation to the concept of global care chains; - by further exploration of the concept of globalization of care economies and transnational division of care work; - by integrated analysis of lived care strategies including distinctive perspectives of informal care worker, family carer and user, as well as continuums and shifting borders between formal and informal care, global and local care, public and private care; - by analysis of connectedness of informal care work and structural inequalities, especially according to intersections of gender, ethnicity, class, age, employment and citizenship status and by special consideration devoted to links between informal care work and poverty; - by identification and recognition of needs of informal care workers in order to integrate them in the changing social organization and policies of care work; - whilst in European Union research is focused on care deficit in child care, our research contributed a detailed insight into informal care work in the field of long-term care for the elderly and disabled; - by new knowledge on social organization of care in one of the (post)transitional countries that are otherwise, on account of the dominance of the »western view« in science in this field, constucted and analysed solely as countries of origin of immigrant care workers.
Significance for the country
Because of existing care deficit and because of expected increase of the needs for care and public costs connected to it, the project contribution will contribute in socio-eonomic sense especially with identifying needs of informal sphere of care work as this sphere appears to be the core carrier of current and future burden of care deficit. Slovenia will face extraordinary demographic changes in the next decades, while society and politics are not prepared to confront them. Three basic tendencies may be highlighted in this respect: longer life expectancy; significant increase of elderly population; continuing low birth rates. Ageing population needs personalized services of high quality, families wish to see better solutions for care for elderly and disabled, women in particular wish to continue working; care workers need quality and regulated workplaces and employment related social rights; and families are in need for reconciliation of work and care. These services as being part of a general social and family policies could bring about unique and modernized social model by investing in people with creating more and of high quality jobs in service sector and responding to the growing needs for care and by favoring sustainable growth applying an appropriate public/private solutions. The EU Employment strategy acknowledged that eradicating undeclared work and integrating informal worker in formal economy served to enhance the potential of European society for competitiveness, substantial economic growth and greater social cohesion. The same goes for gender equality at the labour market. As European Women’s Lobby stated in its campaign Who Cares?, care policies and the provision of care services are intrinsically related to the achievement of equality between women and men. In Slovenia many invisible informal care workers, mainly women, informally provide care services in the private households. In following decencies these women will grow old, getting unable to work and remained with minimal pensions. Not taking the phenomena of informal care work as an important social and policy issue today is taking the risk of future feminization of poverty and social exclusion. The project will mainstream these issues related to care economies and make visible the hidden, privatized strategies for combating the care deficit. In this way, the project will contribute to the public and political recognition of care work.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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