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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2010): Social care - overseas

Competing for what? Linking competition to performance in social service contracting

M. Lamothe and S. Lamothe

American Review of Public Administration, vol.40, 2010, p. 326-350

This research used data from Florida social service contracting to examine the impacts of competition, management capacity and vendor type on contractor performance and turnover. Market theory indicates that competition should spur better performance because replacement is a real and constant threat. The theory also implies that competition should be associated with lower rates of retention as poor performers are weeded out. However, findings suggest that while competition may trigger more frequent vendor turnover, it does not lead to better vendor performance. The research also found that district management capacity is positively related to performance and the performance of nonprofit vendors is indistinguishable from for-profits (whereas both are outperformed by other government contractors).

Domestic and care work at the intersection of welfare, gender and migration regimes: some European experiences

M. Kilkey, H. Lutz and E. Palenga-Mollenbeck (editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol.9, 2010, p. 379-460

Research over the past decade has documented a resurgence of paid domestic and care labour (that is, work performed for pay in private households, including care of elders/disabled people/children) across the Global North. Much of the research has revealed an increasing reliance on migrant, as opposed to native, domestic workers. The purpose of this themed section is to contribute to the integration of two bodies of research: the welfare/care/gender regime literature on the one hand and the globalisation of migrant domestic and care worker literature on the other. More specifically, it is concerned with documenting the growth and character of paid domestic and care work across a range of European societies, and accounting for the patterns observed with reference to the particular configuration of welfare (care), gender and migration regimes in these countries. Five countries, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Poland and the UK, are included in the themed section. They have been chosen to represent some of the varieties of European migration, welfare state, care and gender regimes.

Formal and informal care

European Societies, vol. 12, 2010, p. 139-288

The articles in this themed section offer:

  • An analysis of childcare policies and mothers' employment patterns in Austria compared with the Netherlands and Sweden. While Sweden fosters a Universal Breadwinner model, Austrian policies offer incentives to mothers to organise private care for their children (Caregiver Parity model). The Netherlands encourages part-time integration of mothers into the labour market, combined with private part-time childcare (Universal Caregiver model).
  • An exploration through social care of older people of the ways in which work and non-work are differentiated in Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and England.
  • A comparison of maternity policy in Estonia and Ireland, concentrating on legislation since the 1920s covering leave from work and cash benefits.
  • A longitudinal case study of sheltered employment for disabled people in Sweden, which stereotypes and stigmatises those unable to live up to the image of the normal active citizen.

Relatives as paid care-givers: how family carers experience payments for care

E. Grootegoed, T. Knijn and B. Da Roit

Ageing and Society, vol. 30, 2010, p. 467-489

The Dutch Personal Budget financially rewards family care work that would otherwise be provided unpaid or by professional services. It recognises the value of women's care work, but also introduces a contractual employment relationship into the family. The 'commodified care system' gives monetary value to both the hours of care and the type of care performed. This paper reports a qualitative study of relatives' experiences of payments for care and how these affect their care-giving.

Rural social work: an international perspective

R. Pugh and B. Cheers

Bristol: Policy Press, 2010

In much of the Western world the concerns of rural people are marginalised and rural issues neglected. Indeed, most social work literature implicitly assumes an urban context although increasing political, academic and professional interest in rural policy and rural services is beginning to demonstrate that 'urban' models of practice may be unworkable in the countryside. This book draws upon a rich variety of material to show why rural social work is such a challenging and absorbing field of practice. It incorporates research from different disciplines to provide an accessible and comprehensive introduction to rural practice. The authors use studies from Australia, Canada, the United States and the UK to explore the problems and possibilities of rural practice and address key issues relating to the recruitment, education, training and support of rural social workers.

Understanding human need: social issues, policy and practice

H. Dean

Bristol: Policy Press, 2010

Human need is a central but contested concept in social policy and the social sciences. This book provides an accessible overview of the subject using concepts and debates from philosophy, psychology, economics, sociology and elsewhere. It presents a unique integrative model that characterizes the main approaches and shows how they may be reflected in different sorts of social policy goals. It engages with recent concepts and debates that have in some respects eclipsed the conventional discussions of the past, but which should be examined for the ways in which they advance or contribute to our understanding of human need: they include debates about human wellbeing and 'happiness'; poverty, social exclusion and global inequality; human difference, the diversity of needs and the concept of human capabilities. Most crucially, the book explores debates about the ways in which human needs may be translated into rights and discusses how social policy and a social rights approach can be more explicitly informed by a politics of human need.

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