Embodying the ideal carer

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Bernhard Weicht

Abstract

Demographic developments have caused challenges to national arrangements for elderly care. In Austria one answer has been the employment of migrant carers in the home of people with care needs. The literature on migrant carers has largely discussed economic considerations and specific national welfare state arrangements which underlie the employment of carers. This article focuses on the relation between the moral construction of migrant carers in the family-oriented welfare system of Austria and the ideological understanding of ’’ideal’’ care in society.Using Critical Discourse Analysis the discourse is analysed in newspapers and through focus groups. Migrant carers are constructed as fictive kin, representing an approximation of the idealised family carer. Furthermore, investigating the way people think and talk about migrant carers enables a better understanding of what an idealised notion of care entails and how it represents the ideological construction of the welfare state. It will be argued that the migrant carer is constructed in the public discourse as a replacement for a nostalgically imagined ideal care relationship.

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