Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market
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Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market

The Swedish Model in the Post-Financial Crisis Era

Edited by Christina Garsten, Jessica Lindvert and Renita Thedvall

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, people who had never before had cause to worry about losing their jobs entered the ranks of the unemployed for the first time. In Sweden, the welfare state has been radically challenged and mass unemployment has become a reality in what used to be viewed as a model case for a full employment society. With an emphasis on Sweden in the context of transnational regulatory change, Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market discusses how the market mediates employment and moves on to explore the ways in which employees adjust to a new labour market. Focusing on the legibility, measurability and responsibility of jobseekers, the expert contributors of this book bring together an analysis of activation policy and new ways of organizing the mediation of work, with implications for the individual jobseeker.
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Chapter 9: Home help work: balancing loyalties

Marie Hjalmarsson


In home help work, many things are as they have always been. The main work tasks of caring for people in need of support and assistance remain the same. Important parts of the work similarly continue to be people-to-people relationships with elements of both joy and difficulty. The home help services in Sweden are still publicly funded, financed by taxes and organized by local councils. Private and for-profit agencies are a growing industry in Sweden, but the municipal responsibility for home health and home care still dominates. But much has also changed, and working in home help services in the 2000s is different than in the past. The reorganization of municipal home help services that really took off in the 1980s has had considerable consequences, not only for those who use home help but also for the staff’s ability to perform their work. One of the arguments for the reorganization was based on economic considerations, where the vision was a welfare policy governed by an economic/instrumental rationality (see, for example, Drugge 2003; Eliasson 1992; Szebehely 1996). This has meant a rise in market thinking, where cost efficiency has been equated with care efficiency. This in turn has led to rationalization measures in the form of a downgrading of priorities and cuts to certain work tasks, above all household-related tasks such as cleaning. Another argument put forward was that it was a way to upgrade the value of home help work.

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