Aged care labour value in the political economy : the expropriation of affective labour

  • Marion Carter (Nee Tauschek)

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the political economy of constructing the value of aged care labour, with a focus on Australia. It critically examines the implications of neoliberalism and capitalism on aged care labour value, as the construction of value reifies material (nursing and personal care), rather than immaterial (the production of an emotional ‘affect’), care. The thesis problematises the effect of this approach to value, that focuses on measurable and material care components, excluding immaterial emotions and affect. I employ Hardt and Negri’s theorisation of affective labour to aged care labour to argue that the care labour construct expropriates the affective labour component of aged care. The thesis argues that the construction of care labour value renders material care visible and immaterial care invisible, with the result that affective care labour is only partially valued and, so, mis-valued. As such, the value system excludes affective labour, which is taken-for-granted and expropriated.
    In examining discourses of value, post-structural discourse theory and Glynos and Howarth’s logics of critical explanation are used to examine the construction of this concept of value in care labour. I used focused interviews and public documents to investigate discourses of value to provide a critical explanation of the construction for care labour value in Australia. The empirical analysis identified ideologies that maintain the current construction of neoliberal and capital value and explains care labourers’ subject position in ‘accepting’ this partial value for their labour. As such, the care regime maintains hegemony, by creating a logic in which affective labour is taken-for-granted, through the associated expectation that care labourers ‘gift’ their immaterial care. This constitutes a form of expropriation of affective labour, as the care regime relies and trades on the value of this immaterial care. Overall, the thesis makes three main contributions. First, it offers a detailed study and problematisation of aged care in the political economy of Australia. Second, this thesis develops Hardt and Negri’s reading of the expropriation of affective labour. Third, it adds to existing empirical research adopting Glynos and Howarth’s logics of critical explanation.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Marsh (Supervisor) & Paul Fawcett (Supervisor)

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