Neither marginalisation nor incorporation: Gay and lesbian caregivers as a case for anti-assimilationist citizenship
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractIntroduction Care is a fundamental component of people’s life, with significant implications in terms of status and power dimensions, social justice, equality and citizenship. Nevertheless, care related policies tend to be defined in neutral terms, reinforcing inequalities based on gender, class, race/ethnicity, age, able-bodiness and sexual orientation. Moreover, the literature on care tends to be focused on its costs and responsibilities, while less attention is paid to the right to care and its consequences in terms of status inclusion or exclusion. Aims The study here presented aimed at rethinking the phenomenon of care in a broader perspective, by offering a qualitative analysis that also includes non-conventional caregivers. It builds on the findings of an empirical research on informal care conducted in the USA between 2005 and 2007. The theoretical framework draws on those aspects of the psycho-sociology of emotions that, in explaining how feelings motivate conformity and social stratification, connect micro- and macro-levels, making care, emotion and sexual orientation central to understand how situated interactions reproduce social structure. Methods The sub-sample of gay and lesbian caregivers who are examined in this paper is part of a larger purposive sample of 80 informal caregivers, 40 men and 40 women, involved in childcare or elderly care (or, sometimes, both). The research was based on a multi-method approach, including semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observation, diaries, online discussion forums between members of carers’ associations, key-informants interviews, secondary sources on informal care collected from local associations, journal and newspaper articles and the web. Results The phenomenological analysis of the different meanings and implications of Care discussed in this paper sheds light into important and yet less visible and still unexplored aspects of Care concerning status and power dimensions. If such status and power dimensions are relevant for all caregivers, regardless of their sexual orientation, the public dimension of LGBT care activities (particularly when parenthood is involved) is also quintessentially political. Western culture incorporates aspects of same-sex parenthood that fit with neoliberal, capitalist and individualist agendas while excluding the rest. Whether LGBT caregivers/parents are interested in embracing such political agendas is questionable. Conclusions The implications of more inclusive approaches to Care are crucially important for current debates within social sciences, but also in terms of social policy and LGBT citizenship. Situating the debate of LGBT citizenship within the context of care allows us to reframe the discourse on Care and reduce the inequalities traditionally connected to this fundamental activity; but it also allows overcoming the artificial and misleading dualism between marginalisation and incorporation and to look for anti-assimilationist strategies of inclusion.
CitationPratesi, A. (2013). Neither marginalisation nor incorporation: Gay and lesbian caregivers as a case for anti-assimilationist citizenship. Paper presented at the 1st International conference on LGBT psychology and related fields, Lisbon, Portugal.
SponsorsThe conference attendance was supported by the Department of Social Studies and Counselling (University of Chester, UK)
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