9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 The challenge of combining care and employment Building II, C5.06

Balancing and negotiating obligations and responsibilities

In many European countries public discussion revolves around how to organize the services and care of frail older people and who should carry the responsibility for giving care ? individual people or/and state and municipalities. At the same time people are expected to stay longer at work and delay their retirement in order to alleviate threatening labor shortage. In this research we approach these contrasting and partly conflicting issues by analyzing how working people discuss their own choices and intentions in relation to work and care-giving.

The data comes from face-to-face interviews of people who combine paid employment and helping or giving care to their elderly relatives. The data is collected in the Wocawo-project (Working Carers and Caring Workers. Making paid employment and care responsibilities compatible?) in urban and rural areas of central and southern Finland winter and early spring 2009. The analysis focuses on how people explain, legitimate and reason their willingness, intentions or decisions, either to stay at work and not to take up the role as full-time carer, or contrasting intentions and decisions. Discourse analysis and rhetoric offer tools to study how different arguments are brought up and discussed in interviewees talk. The interviewees are presented with number of topics and questions including meaning of work, experiences of combining work and caring, willingness to cut down work hours or leave work if caring situation would so require, and/or actions taken and decisions they have already made. In this context the interviewees also bring forward their views on the role of individual people vs. the role of state and municipalities in organizing the care and who in their mind should take the main responsibility for giving care to older people.