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The Caring SelfThe Work Experiences of Home Care Aides$
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Clare L. Stacey

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449857

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449857.001.0001

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The Costs of Caring

The Costs of Caring

(p.24) 1 The Costs of Caring
The Caring Self

Clare L. Stacey

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the inequality in home care, introducing the political, economic, and biographical factors that propel women into paid caregiving. Similar to domestics and nannies, home care aides often find themselves doing care work for a wage simply because the job is one of few available in the service sector. Once on the job, aides find themselves contending with the “speedup” of work, the piecemeal nature of employment (i.e. working part-time for multiple clients), low wages, and poor benefits. It is argued that caregiving penalties are more severe for home care aides and other low-skilled careworkers since they provide both unpaid and paid care within the context of significant economic insecurity. The chapter goes on to consider how the biographies and “career lines” of home care aides also bear the markings of structural inequality, especially in relation to aides' personal histories as informal caregivers in their own families. These life patterns, dubbed ‘caring trajectories,’ begin with the unpaid care of a family member, friend, or neighbor and lead, ultimately, to employment in paid caregiving.

Keywords:   home care, home care aides, women caregivers, caregiving, inequality

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