Absorbing care through precarious labour
The shifting boundaries of politics in Norwegian healthcare
in Intimacy and mobility in an era of hardening borders
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This chapter explores how the relationship between labour relations, healthcare policy, and institutional arrangements shape care work through a combined focus on situated work experiences in the feminised and increasingly multi-cultural municipal healthcare sector and on policy discourse and policy framing in Norway. The chapter identifies and describes labour relations, labour experiences, and the part-time employment ‘culture’ in the care services, and the ways healthcare services and care work are envisioned in recent policy. Development in the labour market over the last decade, spurred by amongst other thing migration and the welfare state ‘crisis’, has changed the institutional conditions of labour. Based on examination of political discourse and on data from fieldwork in three Norwegian municipalities, the chapter aims at a multi-level analysis of labour relations in the municipal care sector in order to show the ways a ‘shifting institutional ecology’ opens for precarity of labour in Norway. The key argument of the chapter is that the shifting boundaries of politics have created problems where labour falls outside of the policy frame, something that contributes to a debasing of (care) work as a political category and to the emergence of precarious labour, often naturalised as flexibility, in the public care services.

Intimacy and mobility in an era of hardening borders

Gender, reproduction, regulation

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