Chapter 4: Choosy Suzy (and the Care Act)
In Chapter 4, the character of Choosy Suzy narrates the determination of paid care workers to promote the choice and independence of their service users. It focuses on neoliberal understandings of social care provision as enterprise. Hayes critiques core provisions of the Care Act 2014 which point to the erosion of paid caregiving as a form of labour which is recognisable in labour law.
Lydia Hayes illuminates vividly the gendered injustices embedded in homecare work in the UK, tracing their origins in discriminatory labour laws and the privatization of social care; firmly grounded in the seldom tapped knowledge of front-line workers themselves, her analysis will be of interest to Canadian, US and wider audiences striving similarly to resist the market-driven degradation of home care work and care in the community.
Jane Aronson, Professor of Social Work, McMasters University, Toronto, Canada
Her method in this chapter is to identify and analyse research data as ‘discourse’. She finds that a discourse of choice underpins the Choosy Suzy narrative and finds statutory expression in the Care Act 2014. It validates a step change in the marketisation of care by requiring local authorities to promote service-user choice and control over care as a matter of statutory principle, as well as by requiring that they stimulate and support local care markets. Despite a rights-orientated language of ‘empowerment’ and ‘choice’, the marketisation of social care carries political meanings that are antithetical to the interests of women paid to provide hands-on care. Hence, Hayes argues that a discourse of choice points towards a reconfiguration in the gendered exclusion of paid caregivers from the scope of labour law. Through the lens of Choosy Suzy, the chapter illustrates how a discourse of choice reduces the occupational craft of caregiving to one of care-for-hire and advances the deregulation of labour by combining the unregulated qualities of familial care with the economic qualities of enterprise.