About Glocalising Care Work

Glocalising Care Work is the short name for the Academy of Finland project the Shaping of Occupational Subjectivities of Migrant Care Workers: A Multi-Sited Analysis of Glocalising Elderly Care. The project belongs to the research activities of the discipline of sociology at University of Helsinki. It is based at the Department of Social Research.

Glocalising Care Work examines how migrant care workers (foreign-born personnel with migrant background) become incorporated in elderly care work and its divisions of labour. The focus of the study lies in understanding action that takes place in the work organisation and the formation of occupational subjectivities of migrant workers – their own understanding of what kind of workers they are and could be – in the context of the workplace. Furthermore, the study also considers how public discourse and public policy construct migrant care workers and their occupational potential. The current direction of change in the globalising local welfare service systems is conceptualised as the rise
of ‘glocal care work’.

The three primary research aims of Glocalising Care Work are: to highlight how workplace norms and the public discourse forge certain occupational subjectivities for migrant care workers; to analyse how such normative subjectivities order everyday care practices, associated care work organisation and ethnic hierarchies; and, finally, to highlight the self-understandings and resistance of migrant care workers in relation to normative subjectivities.

Glocalising Care Work examines the elderly care regime in the City of Helsinki. We chose Helsinki as the research site as it is the centre of a larger urban region that is currently being re-constituted as the only metropolitan area in Finland. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of the Helsinki region to act as an engine for economic development in the country. Elderly care is a critical issue for metropolitan policy, as Helsinki’s elderly care regime is encountering specific challenges regarding both structural reforms and the influx of migrants.
The empirical research in Glocalising Care Work concerns the formation of occupational subjectivities and ethnic hierarchies in the workplace. It is organised as five sub-projects:
1) A multi-method qualitative case study of a large public nursing home and its local context combining ethnographic participant observation and open-ended interviews (N=30) with analysis of related municipal policymaking and debates in local newspapers and Internet-based discussion fora (Responsible researcher: Wrede. Research team: Nordberg, Näre, Olakivi, Wrede);

2) An ethnographic study involving participant observation and open-ended interviews (N=50) at private firms providing elderly home care (Responsible researcher: Näre) ;

3) An ethnographic study involving participation and open-ended interviews (N=20) at public home care units providing elderly home care (Responsible researcher: Wrede. Research team: Näre, Olakivi, Saukkonen, Wrede);

4) A study of the media discourse on migrant care workers involving a first-stage exhaustive content analysis of the leading national newspaper in Finland, and a second-stage critical discourse analysis of a smaller sample of articles (N=40). (Responsible researcher: Nordberg.)

5) A documentary analysis of policy discourse on the issue of migrant-background workforce in elderly care involving a first-stage exhaustive mapping of relevant policy documents produced by the City of Helsinki.  The second-stage of documentary analysis involved content analysis of collected materials and collection of some complementary materials. In the final analysis, the documentary data are subjected to documentary analysis with the aim of mapping policy processes, actors and policy frames. (Responsible researcher: Wrede).

Glocalising Care Work will provide an in-depth understanding of the sense-making and practices surrounding ethnic differences in the ordering of occupational identities and subjectivities in diverse elderly carework settings. This knowledge is essential for shaping new, more equitable practices of work organisation.

Principal investigator: Docent Sirpa Wrede

Research team: Dr. Camilla Nordberg, Dr. Lena Näre and M.Soc.Sc. Antero Olakivi

Research assistants: M.Soc.Sc. Sofia Söderberg (In the pilot study April – June 2011), B.SocSc. Miika Saukkonen (1.4.-31.10.2012)

Funding period: 1.9.2011-31.8.2015

Funders: Primary funder Academy of Finland, additional funding from Samfundet Folkhälsan (Jan-Magnus Janssons fond), University of Helsinki (Näre, Wrede) and Kone foundation  (Näre).

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