9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Influence of Family Structures on Providing Informal Care Building II, C5.06

Combining Parent Care and Paid Work with or without Siblings: How do working carers argue the role of sisters and brothers?

The divisions of care responsibilities between the family, state, market and voluntary sector are changing in ageing societies. In Finland and in other countries there have been reductions in public welfare services and benefits over the past few decades, and the general trend has been towards the promotion of home-based care and family care.

At the same time people are expected to work more and extend their working careers. However, little is known how care responsibilities are shared within the family, e.g. between working sons and daughters of older parents needing regular help.

In addition, the discussions concerning ethics of care have emphasised the relational nature of caring: care is a relationship between the care-giver and the care-receiver and it is based on the interdependency of these actors. However, the relationships between siblings might be significant too, when we consider the life situations of middle-aged working people.

This paper will focus on the sibling relationships of people who combine paid work and family care for parents. How do people who have siblings organise the care of their parents, and how do they argue the helping or non-helping roles of siblings? What kind of source of resource or source of conflicts sisters and brothers might be for these people when they reconcile their role as a carer and their role as a worker? How do working carers who do not have siblings organise the care of their parents, and how do they argue the lack of siblings´ help?

The paper will discuss these questions by using qualitative face-to-face interviews conducted in Finland in winter and early spring 2009 within the WoCaWo project (Working Carers and Caring Workers - Making paid employment and care responsibilities compatible). The interviewees are people who combine gainful employment and regular care for older next of kin. In this paper the focus is on middle-age working carers who help their ageing parent or both parents.