Who Needs Them? Care Work, Migration and Public Policy Bridget Anderson


This paper examines how immigration policies on migrant care workers are both pragmatic ‘policy solutions’ and also reflect and construct social ideas and relations about gender, labour and nation, with a particular focus on the UK. It first considers the regimes that construct the supply and demand for low waged workers in social care to analyse how the creation of a migrant workforce results from the intersection of a wide range of policies and ‘systems effects’. The role of migrant labour in the care sector is however, not reflected in immigration policy, and the paper examines the crucial symbolic dimension which can be overlooked in policy literature. To look at this more closely it considers the two immigration categories that have been available for care work in private homes, au pairs and domestic worker visas, which reflect and construct assumptions about the doing of domestic work in the UK, about the relation between family and work, and ideas of equality, slavery and freedom.

Anderson, B. (2012), ‘Who Needs Them? Care Work, Migration and Public Policy’, Cuadernos de Relaciones Laborales, 30(1): 45-61