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Durham e-Theses
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The linked lives of Polish worker-carers in the UK and their families in Poland: Making the case for valuing unpaid care labour.

SZABLEWSKA, LUCINDA,ALICE (2019) The linked lives of Polish worker-carers in the UK and their families in Poland: Making the case for valuing unpaid care labour. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is a qualitative narrative account of a 2 year study into Polish migration and stasis in the UK and Poland through the language of care. It explores the linked lives of Polish worker-carers and their children and parents across borders and over the lifecourse, and how their experiences, discourses and practices of care are shaped by and in turn shaped broader geopolitical and economic structures. The research was a multi-sited and bi-lingual ethnographic study based on repeat visits to 18 households in the UK and Poland, biographical interviews with midlife women, and follow up visits to some participants’ families in Poland. It was framed conceptually by ideas about mobility and immobility, social reproduction and care practices, and used the ‘care diamond’ to situate familial caregiving in a broader shifting constellation of complex, contradictory and unequal care relations distributed between the state, family, market and community. The thesis finds that mobility and fixity can be an opportunity for some individuals to rebalance intergenerational power relations and develop intimacy at a distance, develop non-familial relations of care or escape toxic relations and remake social reproduction. Some women who undertake unpaid care work are at risk of cumulative financial disadvantage and pension poverty when they miss out on social insurance credits accrued singularly through paid labour, particularly if they have little or no access to pooled familial resources. The thesis also finds that there is a need to take into account the ways in which some of the ‘young old’ often continue to work, care and remain independent well into old age, and the ways in which people accommodate, contest and circumvent the emergence of
punitive welfare and work regimes based on ‘flexicurity’ – flexible work, a weak social safety net and the shifting of care onto families.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:social reproduction, intergenerational care relations, linked lives, unpaid care labour, lifecourse, care diamond.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Nov 2019 15:42

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