Cynthia J. Cranford, "Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances" (ILR Press, 2020)

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The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we think about care. Care work has long been devalued – the daily labors of sustaining the well-being of individuals and community members were seen as natural duties belonging to women, and did not receive recognition as labor. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, the popular media is increasingly valorizing care workers as essential workers because of the growing need for care from our vulnerable populations. The question remains whether we as society are ensuring care for both workers and recipients of state-funded domestic personal support, who are also marginalized from society because of their age, disability, class, and race. Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances (ILR Press, 2020) makes a timely intervention – the scholarship on care work focuses either on workers, recipients, policies, or private sectors. In her important sociological investigation, Cynthia Cranford examines both the workers’ and recipients’ perspectives through in-depth interviews with over 300 people in Canada and the US to understand how we can improve the workers’ security with recipients’ flexibility (often seen in opposition from one another) at levels of labor process, labor market, and state.

Through case studies of Toronto’s Direct Funding Program, Los Angeles’s In-Home Supportive Services program, Toronto’s Home Care program, and Toronto’s Attendant Services program, Cranford evaluates the potential of co-ethnic alliances, union organizing, and state-funded model in mediating the tension between security and flexibility. Drawing from a wide range of scholarship on domestic labor, migration, and unions, Cranford proposes a three-pronged model of intimate community unionism to ensure flexible and secure working environments for both workers and recipients where they can democratically contribute their knowledges and form alliances. Cranford’s in-depth, thought-provoking, and insightful work is an important read not only for scholars of care work and labor, but also for activists, social workers, and organizers outside of academia who are interested in building alliances of care.

Cynthia Cranford is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, where she studies inequalities of gender, work and migration, and collective efforts to resist them.

Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at dainachoi@g.ucla.edu.

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