Producing (im)mobilities in home care for the elderly: the role of home care agencies in Switzerland

Main Article Content

Huey Shy Chau

Abstract

The Free Movement of Persons Agreement has fostered the emergence of a new market for live-in care in Switzerland. Private care agencies recruit women from the European Union (EU) accession states and place them as live-in carers for the elderly in private households. This paper focuses on how these agencies organise these live-in care arrangements.  Drawing on concepts of the politics of mobility, I analyse the production of (im)mobilities through the placement and recruitment practices of care agencies and the power relations that underlie live-in care arrangements. The findings show that live-in care is constituted both by mobilities, exemplified by care workers’ circular movements and need to be highly mobile, and by care workers’ immobilities once they start working in a household. The care workers’ mobility is in turn enabled by the agencies’ placement practices and by infrastructures specialised in their movements, which serve as moorings.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

Section
Articles in a Special Issue

References

Abrantes, M. (2014). ‘I know it sounds nasty and stereotyped’: Searching for the competent domestic worker: Searching for the competent domestic worker. Gender, Work & Organization 21(5): 1–16.45

Adey, P. (2006). If mobility is everything then it is nothing: Towards a relational politics of (Im)mobilities. Mobilities 1(1): 75–94.

Akalin, A. (2015). Motherhood as the value of labour: The migrant domestic workers’ market in Turkey. Australian Feminist Studies 30(83): 65–81.

Bachinger, A. (2009). Der irreguläre Pflegearbeitsmarkt. Zum Trans¬formationsprozess von unbezahlter in bezahlte Arbeit durch die 24-Stunden-Pflege [The Irregular Care Labour Market. Transformation Process from Unpaid to Paid Labour through 24h-Car] Austria: Disserta¬tion at the University of Vienna.

Bakan, A. B. & Stasiulis, D. K. (1995). Making the match: Domestic placement agencies and the racialization of women’s household work. Signs 20(2): 303–335.

Baldassar, L. & Merla, L. (eds.). (2014). Transnational Families, Migration and the Circulation of Care: Understanding Mobility and Absence in Family Life. New York: Routledge.

Bock, G. & Duden, B. (1976). Arbeit aus Liebe - Liebe als Arbeit. Zur Entstehung der Hausarbeit im Kapitalismus [Labor of love-love as labor. On the genesis of housework in capitalism]. Frauen und Wissenschaft. Beiträge zur Berliner Sommeruniversität für Frauen [Women and science. Contributions to the Berliner Summer University for Women] 2: 118–199.

Büscher, M. & Urry, J. (2009). Mobile Methods and the Empirical. European Journal of Social Theory 12(1): 99–116.

Castles, S. (2006). Guest workers in Europe: A Resurrection? International Migration Review 40(4): 741–766.

Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Chau, H. S., Pelzelmayer, K. & Schwiter, K. (2018). Short-term circular migration and gendered negotiation of the right to the city: The case of migrant live-in care workers in Basel, Switzerland. Cities 76: 4–11.

Constable, N. (1997). Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Filipina Workers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Cox, R. (2006). The Servant Problem: Domestic Employment in a Global Economy. London: I.B. Tauris.

Cresswell, T. (2006). On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. New York: Routledge.46

Cresswell, T. (2010). Towards a politics of mobility. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28(1): 17–31.

Cresswell, T., Dorow, S. & Roseman, S. (2016). Putting mobility theory to work: Conceptualizing employment-related geographical mobility. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 48(9): 1787–1803.

Cresswell, T. & Merriman, P. (eds.). (2011). Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Cuban, S. (2013). Deskilling Migrant Women in the Global Care Industry. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Cuban, S. & Fowler, C. (2012). Carers cruising Cumbria and meals on the mile: The drive of migrants in fieldwork and fiction. Mobilities 7(2): 295–315.

Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y.S. (eds.). (2001). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dorow, S. & Mandizadza, S. (2018). Gendered circuits of care in the mobility regime of Alberta’s oil sands. Gender, Place & Culture 25(8) 1–16.

Dorow, S., Roseman, S. R. & Cresswell, T. (2017). Re-working mobilities: Emergent geographies of employment-related mobility. Geography Compass 11(12): 1–12.

Eelens, F. & Speckmann, J.D. (1990). Recruitment of Labor Migrants for the Middle East: The Sri Lankan Case. The International Migration Review 24: 297–322.

EGB, Eidgenössisches Büro für Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann [Office for equality between women and men] (2010). Anerkennung und Aufwer¬tung der Care-Arbeit. Impulse aus Sicht der Gleichstellung [Recognition and Appreciation of Care Work. Impulses on Equality] Bern: Eidgenössisches Büro für Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann.

Ehrenreich, B. & Hochschild, A. (2003). Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy. London: Granta Books.

Elrick, T. & Lewandowska, E. (2008). Matching and making labour demand and supply: Agents in polish migrant networks of domestic elderly care in Germany and Italy. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(5): 717–734.

Faist, T. (2012). Toward a transnational methodology: Methods to address methodological nationalism, essentialism, and positionality. Revue Européenne Des Migrations Internationales 28(1): 51–70.47

Goh, C., Wee, K. & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2017). Migration governance and the migration industry in Asia: moving domestic workers from Indonesia to Singapore. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 17(3): 401–433.

Guevarra, A. R. (2010). Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

Hanson, S. & Pratt, G. (1995). Gender, Work, and Space. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Hesse-Biber, S. (ed.). (2012). Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Hochschild, A. R. (2000). Global care chains and emotional surplus value. In A. Giddens & W. Hutton (eds.), On the Edge: Globalization and the New Millenium (pp. 130–146). London: Sage.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (1997). Domestic Employment Agencies in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, Southern California Studies Center.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (2000). Doméstica: immigrant workers cleaning and caring in the shadows of affluence. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Huang, S., Thang, L. L. & Toyota, M. (2012). Transnational mobilities for care: Rethinking the dynamics of care in Asia. Global Networks 12(2): 129–134.

Huang, S. & Yeoh, B. S.A (1996). Ties that bind: State policy and migrant female domestic helpers in Singapore. Geoforum 27(4): 479–493.

Kern, A. & Müller-Böker, U. (2015). The middle space of migration: A case study on brokerage and recruitment agencies in Nepal. Geoforum 65: 158–169.

Kofman, E. & Raghuram, P. (2015). Gendered Migrations and Global Social Reproduction. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Krawietz, J. (2014). Pflege grenzüberschreitend organisieren. Eine Studie zur transnationalen Vermittlung von Care-Arbeit [Organising transnational care. A study on transnationale placements of care work]. Frankfurt am Main: Mabuse-Verlag.

Liang, L.-F. (2011). The making of an ‘ideal’ live-in migrant care worker: recruiting, training, matching and disciplining. Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(11): 1815–1834.48

Lindquist, J. (2010). Labour recruitment, circuits of capital and gendered mobility: Reconceptualizing the Indonesian migration industry. Pacific Affairs 83(1): 115–132.

Lindquist, J. (2012). The elementary school teacher, the thug and his grandmother: Informal brokers and transnational migration from Indonesia. Pacific Affairs 85(1): 69–89.

Lindquist, J., Xiang B. &. Yeoh, B.S.A. 2012. Opening the black box of migration: Brokers, the organization of transnational mobility and the changing political economy in Asia. Pacific Affairs 85(1): 7–19.

Loveband, A. (2004). Positioning the product: Indonesian migrant women workers in Taiwan. Journal of Contemporary Asia 34(3): 336–348.

Lutz, H. (2005). Der Privathaushalt Als Weltmarkt Für Weibliche Arbeitskräfte [The Private Household As A World Market For Female Workers]. Peripherie 25 (97/98): 65–87.

Lutz, H. (2008). Migration and Domestic Work : A European Perspective on a Global Theme. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Lutz, H. (2011). The New Maids: Transnational Women and the Care Economy. London: Zed Books.

Mahler, S. J. & Pessar, P. R. (2001). Gendered geographies of power: Analyzing gender across transnational spaces. Identities 7(4): 441–459.

Massey, D. (1993). Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place. In J. Bird (ed.), Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change. New York: Routledge.

McDowell, L. (2009). Working Bodies: Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Österle, A., Hasl, A. & Bauer, G. (2013). Vermittlungsagenturen in der 24-h-Betreuung [Placement agencies in 24h care]. WISO. Institut für Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften 36(1): 159–172.

Parrenas, R. S. (2000). Migrant filipina domestic workers and the international division of reproductive labor. Gender & Society 14(4): 560–581.

Pelzelmayer, K. (2016). Places of difference: Narratives of heart-felt warmth, ethnicisation, and female care-migrants in Swiss live-in care. Gender, Place & Culture 23(12):1701–1712.

Raghuram, P. (2012). Global care, local configurations – Challenges to conceptualizations of care. Global Networks 12(2): 155–174.

Raghuram, P. (2016). Locating care ethics beyond the Global North. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 15(3): 511–533.49

Razavi, S. (2007). The Political and Social Economy of Care in a Development Context: Conceptual Issues, Research Questions and Policy Options. Gender and Development Paper No. 3. p. 50. Geneva: UNRISD.

Roseman, S. R., Barber, P. G. & Neis, B. (2015). Towards a feminist political economy framework for analyzing employment-related geographical mobility. Studies in Political Economy 95(1): 175–203.

Rossow, V. & Leiber, S. (2017). Zwischen Vermarktlichung und Europäisierung: Die wachsende Bedeutung transnational agierender Vermittlungsagenturen in der häuslichen Pflege in Deutschland [Between Marketization and Europeanisation: The growing significance of transnational employment agencies for home care in Germany]. Sozialer Fortschritt 66(3–4): 285–302.

Schilliger, S. (2009). Hauspflege: Aktuelle Tendenzen in der Entstehung eines globalisierten, deregulierten Arbeitsmarktes [Home care: Current developments in the emergence of a globalised, deregulised labour market]. Olympe. Feministische Arbeitshefte zur Politik 30: 121–126.

Schilliger, S. (2014). Pflegen ohne Grenzen? Polnische Pendelmigrantinnen in der 24h-Betreuung. Eine Ethnographie des Privathaushalts als globalisiertem Arbeitsplatz [Caring without borders? Polish circular migrants in 24 h care: An ethnography of the private household as a globalised workplace]. Switzerland: Dissertation at the University of Basel.

Schilliger, S. (2015). ‘Wir sind doch keine Sklavinnen’. (Selbst-)Organisierung von polnischen Care-Arbeiterinnen in der Schweiz [‘We are no slaves’. (Self-)organizing of Polish care workers in Switzerland]. In Denknetz (ed.),
Zerstörung und Transformation des Gemeinwesens (vol. 8, 8th ed., pp. 164–177). Edition 8: Zürich.

Schwiter, K., Berndt, C. & Schilling, L. (2014). Ein sorgender Markt. Wie transnationale Vermittlungsagenturen von Betagtenbetreuerinnen (Im) Mobilität, Ethnizität und Geschlecht in Wert setzen [A caring market. How transnational care agencies put (im)mobility, ethnicity and gen¬der in value]. Geographischen Zeitschrift 102(4): 2012–2231.

Schwiter, K., Berndt, C. & Truong, J. (2018). Neoliberal austerity and the marketisation of elderly care. Social & Cultural Geography 19(2): 379–399.

Sheller, M. (2016). Uneven mobility futures: A Foucauldian approach. Mobilities 11(1): 15–31.

Sheller, M. & Urry, J. (2006). The new mobilities paradigm. Environment and Planning A 38(2): 207–226.50

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research. Techniques and Procedures for Developing Theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Triandafyllidou, A. & Marchetti, S. (2013). Migrant domestic and care workers in Europe: New patterns of circulation? Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 11(4): 339–346.

Truong, J., Schwiter, K. & Berndt, C. (2012). Arbeitsmarkt Privathaushalt. Charakteristika der Unternehmen, deren Beschäftigungsstruktur und Arbe¬itsbedingungen. Eine Studie im Auftrag der Fachstelle für Gleichstellung der Stadt Zürich [Private household as labour market. A study commissioned by the Office for equality]. Zürich: Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Urry, J. (2003). Global Complexity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Wickramasekara, P. (2011). Circular migration: A triple win or a dead end? International Labour Office. Bureau for Workers’ Activities 15: 1–108.

Williams, F. (2011). Markets and migrants in the care economy. Soundings 47: 22–33.

XE Currency Converter. (2017). Available on http://www.xe.com/de/cur-rencytables/?from=CHF&date=2014-05-15 (Accessed: August 17, 2017)

Yeates, N. (2004). Global care chains. International Feminist Journal of Politics 6(3): 369–391.

Yeates, N. (2012). Global care chains: A state-of-the-art review and future directions in care transnationalization research. Global Networks 12(2): 135–154.