Madelene Bunting

Progressively devalued social care

Madelene Bunting
Madelene Bunting

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“ The subject of social care struggles for public attention, crippled by a long history of invisibility and complacency” ex-Guardian journalist Madeline said after exposing a society in which social care has been devalued in Labours of Love.

 Her reflective investigation into the crisis of care in the UK, with  a clarion call for change and likely to affect every one of us over the course of  our lives. Carework is underpaid, its values degraded, as British society lauds economic growth, productivity and profit over compassion, kindness and empathy.  For centuries  labours of women have been taken for granted, but  with more women now I work, with increasing numbers of elderly and with austerity dismantling the welfare state, care is under pressure as never before.

As the social care is progressively devalued despite medical advances mean more and more of us will live to require it.

With the advent of industrialisation Care was lacking in economic value, the realm of daughters, wives and mothers  who are expected to keep the domestic fires burning while their menfolk forged  the structures of  capitalism.

The UK households  rarely incorporated more than two  generations  the Granny in the corner is a myth, as many elderly people ended up in work  houses because their families  were unable or unwilling  to care for them, according to bunting.

The Crisis of Care would have been timely at any point, but never more so than in the spoch-defining circumstances of 2020 as we seek finally to re-define our values.

Inner-city doctors trying to help patients  whose mysterious disorders seem to be  the product of headache or cultural dislocation, nurses  and nursing assistants, professional carers and those looking after autistic children or dementia-afflicted parents.

Bunting deplores marketization of social care, in which looking after others is reduced to a commodity requiring specific outputs.

The awareness of income and expenditure is part of the cost of running a free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare  system  in the UK, a country that has shown little appetite for the levels of taxation needed to provide a more bounteous service.

Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care by Madeleine Bunting, Granta £20, 336 pages.