Economization of Care for Older Adults

Care and care for older adults are relational, taking place between individuals who know one another or between the person in need of care and care workers, often professionals. This relational activity has recently become an important global political issue. Feminist, disability, and carers’ movements and researchers have been at the forefront in politicizing care so that the issue of aging and especially elder care has entered to the political decision-making.

As a result, at least in welfare states, the responsibilities between the state, the market, families, and individuals in relation to care are steered and controlled in various ways through care policies. Some of these policies advance the process of economization of care. Economization means that spheres and practices of life that have previously been thought of as noneconomic undergo a process of remaking the knowledge, form, content, and conduct appropriate to the spheres and practices of markets.

The marketization of elder care is central in the process of economization. It refers to government measures that introduce, support, and enforce the introduction of markets, create relationships between buyers and sellers, and enhance the use of market mechanisms to allocate care. Economization of elder care through care policies that rely on market rationality creates an ontological shift whereby the rationale behind elder care is or is assumed to be based on markets and profit making. This again may lead to depoliticizing of care and the return of elder care back to invisible women’s work at homes.

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Zechner, M. (2022). Economization of Care for Older Adults. In: Baikady, R., Sajid, S., Przeperski, J., Nadesan, V., Rezaul, I., Gao, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Global Social Problems. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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Work package leader, associate professor