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Care in a time of austerity: the electronic monitoring of homecare workers' time

Care in a time of austerity: the electronic monitoring of homecare workers' time

Hayes, L.J.B. and Moore, Sian (2016) Care in a time of austerity: the electronic monitoring of homecare workers' time. Gender, Work and Organization, 24 (4). pp. 329-344. ISSN 0968-6673 (Print), 1468-0432 (Online) (doi:

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Austerity places intense pressures on labour costs in paid care. In the UK, electronic monitoring technology has been introduced to record (and materially reduce) the working time and wages of homecare workers. Based on empirical findings, we show that, in a 'time of austerity', care is reductively constructed as a consumption of time. Service users are constructed as needy, greedy, time-consumers and homecare workers as resource-wasting time-takers. We point to austerity as a temporal ideology aimed at persuading populations that individual deprivation in the present moment, self-sacrifice and the suppression of personal need in the here and now is a necessary requirement to underpin a more secure national future. Accordingly, women in low-waged care work are required to eschew a rights bearing, present-tense identity and are assumed willing to suppress their entitlements to lawful wages as a sacrifice to the future. By transforming our understandings of 'care' into those of 'time consumption', and by emphasizing the virtue of present-tense deprivation, a politics of austerity appears to justify time-monitoring in care provision and the rationing of homecare workers' pay.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Austerity; Working time; Care work; Unpaid labour; Minimum wage law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2020 15:19
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: GREAT b
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 4
Selected for REF2021: REF 4

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