New book on social care crisis profiled by The Guardian

9 August 2017

Social care crisis

A new book which discusses the UK’s crisis of social care has been profiled by The Guardian.

Law lecturer Dr Lydia Hayes’ book Stories of Care: A Labour of Law (Palgrave, 2017) provides an innovative and timely insight into the day-to-day sexist attitudes and class-bias that homecare workers in the UK encounter.

The book is based on empirical work on homecare workers carried out by Dr Hayes while she was funded by the Journal of Law and Society fellowship award at the School of Law and Politics.

Dr Hayes’ research provides the first in-depth ethnographic study of homecare workers in the UK.  It places employment law at the heart of understanding care workers’ lived experience. The book explores how and why legal protection at work has proven to be so ineffectual.

Framing the UK’s twenty-first century crisis of social care in the context of a longstanding, gendered crisis in the regulation of work, Dr Hayes argues that there are few better examples of the extent to which the state disrespects working-class women than the fact that homecare jobs offer among the worst of wages and working conditions.

The central message of the book is an appeal for labour standards to be more widely understood as fundamental to the future of social care.  The work sheds light on what Dr Hayes refers to as the 'institutionalised humiliation' of the homecare workforce to show how the intellectual reasoning and values expressed in employment law serve to justify poor treatment, low pay and insecurity.

The book was launched with a symposium in London in June featuring speakers including Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. It has also been the subject of a presentation to the ‎International Labour Law Research Network conference in Canada.