Seminar Five: The new politics of home (25 November 2014)
The New Politics of Home: public, private and the future of welfare
The Geffrye Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA Tuesday 25 November 2013, 0930 - 1700
This final symposium in our ESRC-funded series dealt with the fast-changing context of welfare state reform, the new ‘austerity politics’ and its impact on experiences of homespaces, belonging and homeliness in public services.
Keynote 1: Professor Marian Barnes, Emeritus Professor (University of Brighton) – Care Full Alliances: Re-thinking the Politics of Care.
Discussant: Dr Sophie Bowlby, University of Reading
Abstract: The politics of care during the last 20-30 years has been strongly influenced by collective action amongst users of social care services. In this paper I consider the very different contexts in which user movements developed from the current context. In the early days of user movements service users defined themselves in opposition to those working in social care services and, in some parts of the movement, rejected ‘care’ as being incompatible with ‘rights’. In this paper I argue that this is no longer a helpful strategy. This is because the distinct identities of care givers and care receivers cannot be sustained, and because the position of care workers is itself often vulnerable. Thus we need to explore ways in which the politics of care can develop on the basis of alliances that recognize the necessity of care to social justice. The significance of home, in this context, can be understood in relation to who is ‘at home’ when services are given and received.
Panel One: Home and the future spaces of welfare: this panel of speakers considered experiences of care ‘at home’ in different ways: through innovative home stay schemes, through volunteers supporting young families and through institutions and structures within the Norwegian context.
Speakers: ‘Shared Lives’ - Alex Fox, Chief Executive, Shared Lives Plus
‘Growing old at home: Shifting politics of home and homecare in Norway’
Dr Mia Vabø, Centre for Welfare and Labour Research Norwegian Social Research
‘Caring in Home Spaces: An evaluation of Home Start Manchester South’
Teresa O’Neill & Dr Jenny Fisher, Social Work and Social Change Dept., Manchester
Watch Home Start animations here.
Voices from the Focus E15 Mums campaign – Kate Belgrave, freelance journalist.
Keynote 2: Home, Care and the State: the spatial politics of domestic work – Professor
Kim England (University of Washington).
Abstract: The work of house cleaning, child care, elder care and caring for those with disabilities has long been rendered invisible, both as a form of 'real work' and because of the particularities of the workplace - other people's homes. This paper explores the recent emergence of campaigns associated with domestic care work in the US. Often the target of exploitation and more vulnerable than employees in other workplaces, domestic workers have become active and visible in the various efforts to gain coverage under labor legislation at the state and federal government levels. Such activism problematizes the ongoing devaluation and continued invisibilization of care by explicitly calling for respect for and recognition of domestic workers, many of whom are racialized immigrant women.
Discussant: Dr Jane Franklin, the Open University
Panel Two: Austerity and the politics of the home
This panel considered meanings of austerity and home life from different perspectives: in relation to a set of domestic practices which might involve an environmental and anti-consumerist politics, and in relation to forms of family and intimate support which allow families to ‘get by’ in times of austerity.
Speakers: 'Austere domesticities' - Dr Rebecca Bramall, University of Brighton
‘Lived experiences of austerity and crisis: family relationships and everyday practices’
Dr Sarah-Marie Hall, University of Manchester
Final discussion: led by Professor Janet Newman
Janet proposed three final issues and sets of questions to consider in relation to the politics of home:
1) That when we talk about home there seems to be a ‘psychic splitting’ between home as a fantasy place, and material questions of housing: how do we overcome this?
2) That home can be a site of ‘pre-figurative’ politics: ways of doing care and managing aspects of everyday life that we wish to see enacted on a larger scale: but what happens to these practices and politics when they do become part of governmental projects?
3) That home can also become a locus of activism, of opposition and of pushing for radical change: how can research and activist agendas be aligned or misaligned?