Accepted Paper:

Re-enacting families: the boundary between professional care workers and informal care givers defined along with the relative care support system in Finland  


Erika Takahashi (Chiba University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the border between care work and informal care by introducing the relative care support services in Finland. By describing the interaction between municipal personnel and relative care takers, the ideas of professionalism, intimacy and independence are to be reexamined.

Paper long abstract:

Even in Nordic Welfare States, there are structural changes of local welfare systems urged by the neoliberalistic ideology. Under serious pressure to cut costs, deinstitutionalization is ongoing. Instead of formal care provided by municipalities, relatives who could take care of their elderly are came into political focus in this imminent welfare setup. Questions arise from this current are; what is the "performed" value of relatives or families in this context? Is this re-evaluation of relative care merely activating the traditional ideas of relatives or families? Or has the post-modern "confluent" types of families taken over the role of informal care? Is there role shifting from formal to informal care?

This paper is to examine the relative care support system which came into force since mid 2000s. New law defines relative care as "taking care of elderly, handicapped or people with disease by relatives or someone who is near the one in need of care" and ensures these relative caregivers a financial allowance and respites from their care giving tasks. Logically, this broadens the definition of relative to almost anyone and regards him or her as a care worker by ensuring his or her rights as part of an official work force.

However, this professional rights and intimate feelings often mixed up within the actual practice of care giving. Therefore, by describing the interaction between municipal personnel and relative care givers, the ideas about families or relatives, intimacy, professionalism and independence are to be re-examined.

Panel P013
Collaboration and intimacy in the politics of care work