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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 Rewards of Caring

The Rewards of Caring

Chapter:
(p.85) 3 The Rewards of Caring
Source:
The Caring Self
Author(s):

Clare L. Stacey

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449857.003.0004

This chapter discusses the functional and relational autonomy found by home care aides that allow them to engage in emotional labor “on their own terms.” Aides also find dignity in the fictive kinship bonds formed with clients and their families, a factor that works in tandem with autonomy to lay the foundation for the caring self. Aides construct the caring self by engaging in three types of “identity talk”: professing care as natural and innate, emphasizing service to others, and marking boundaries between themselves and “uncaring” others. The chapter also makes the case that social locations of race, class, and gender are crucial to the development of the caring self. For aides of color, particularly African American aides, experiences of discrimination on the job (usually from clients) profoundly affect the way these workers experience the caring self and narrate their care. Nonnative-born aides from Mexico, the Philippines, and Latin America experience their care slightly differently and they possess superior caregiving skills due to their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Rather than viewing these differences as somehow essential or part of individual or group-level disposition, the chapter concludes that all aides construct a caring self on the job, but that this identity varies by social location in notable ways.

Keywords:   home care aides, home care, caregivers, caregiving, autonomy, caring self

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