A RIGHT TO CARE? UNPAID CARE WORK IN EUROPEAN EMPLOYMENT LAW by NICOLE BUSBY

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2012.00583.x
Publication Date01 Jun 2012
AuthorLUKE CLEMENTS
Book Reviews
A RIGHT TO CARE? UNPAID CARE WORK IN EUROPEAN
EMPLOYMENT LAW by NICOLE BUSBY
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 209 pp., £72.00)
Unpaid carers are a fascinating group ± and one ripe for socio-legal analysis.
Under the Poor Law they knew their place: family members obliged to
maintain their poor, old, blind, lame, and impotent relatives. Although the
Beveridge reforms, in doing away with this legal liability, pointed towards a
future where social policy might domesticate the free market, this vision has
not been realized. Liberalism has yielded to neoliberalism, and the rhetoric
of globalism demands ever-greater sacrifices from worker and carer alike.
In the United Kingdom and a number of other states, the last 25 years has
seen an avalanche of legislation making specific mention of unpaid carers:
legislation that seeks, in one way or another, to sustain their caring role without
embarrassing the Treasury or upsetting the Confederation of British Industry. If
it has done nothing more, this legislation has formally recognized the status of
`unpaid carer' and the attendant proliferation of carers' organizations has led to
an identification by carers that they are members of an oppressed class. Such a
crystallization is a key factor in the development of a group consciousness,
leading to demands for equal treatment and a status as `rights holders'.
Unpaid carers are predominantly women ± mothers, sisters, and daughters
± and Busby explores this dimension (as virtually everything else in this
excellent book) with a forensic and disarming thoroughness. In relation to
gender and unpaid work, she avoids the prescriptive classification of care as
a `women's issue', and in relation to paid work she adopts Susan Okin's
critique of the neoliberal platonic ideal of the worker ± the autonomous `he'
who it is assumed has ```someone else'' at home to raise his children'.
The book's stated aim is to consider how paid work and unpaid care can
be reconciled by exploring the potential for the development of a `right to
care' in European employment law. Whilst this may not cause a stampede to
the book sales counter, it is a fascinating study, even for those who have
hitherto resisted the charms of European employment law.
Employment arrangements in the EU have changed materially since its
formation, with a significant increase both in the numbers of women in work
and the number of workers (predominantly women) in part-time work.
Busby argues persuasively that these reconfigurations have taken place
without any radical change to the conception of the `standard worker': that
instead, self-standing rights have been bolted onto the regulatory framework
`which seek to ensure its normalization'.
309
ß2012 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2012 Cardiff University Law School. Published by Blackwell Publishing
Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

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