MA Zacharenko Elena

126000 €

Neoliberal care policy: how does EU policy address the crisis of social reproduction?

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

The COVID-19 pandemic has made evident that in late capitalist states, including those in the EU, the demand for care and social reproductive labour, essential to maintain life and sustain social structures, is increasingly failing to be met. This situation has been created through long-term policies pushing women out into the labour market while cutting state expenditure and marketizing public care provision, and has only been exacerbated through post-2008 austerity policies and demographic shifts such as low birth rates and ageing societies. This research will combine insights from feminist political economy and care scholarship to explore the role of the EU in deepening the crisis of social reproduction in its member states. It will fill a gap in existing EU gender scholarship as well as that on EU economic policy impacts on equality between women and men in the bloc, which while extensive, rarely engage with the subject of the crisis of care or social reproduction. The research will focus on a theme which is currently under-researched in literature on the crisis of social reproduction: the dependency of some Western EU care systems on the labour of East-Central European (ECE) care migrants. It will assess the role of the EU in creating this dependency through its influence over member states’ socio-economic policies which determine public care provision. This will be done by subjecting EU documents on economic, social and gender equality policy and economic recommendations to case study countries to deconstructive analysis to establish if and how EU policy favours the political and economic interests of particular social classes, countries or regions. The case studies will be Poland and Belgium – one ECE predominantly sending and one Western European predominantly receiving country in the care migration chain. The research is also relevant to countries such as Finland, which do not yet rely heavily on care migration to but will most likely do so in the future.