Caring within constraint : employment relations in voluntary sector social care in the context of personalisation, marketization and austerity

  • Douglas Young

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis examines the impact of personalisation, marketization and austerity on voluntary sector social care employment relations in post-recession Scotland. The prevalence of short-term funding contracts characterised by strict and often confining performance criteria has resulted in the emergence of a 'contract culture' whereby funders effectively determine service provision. This quasi-market approach to procurement often manifests itself in a pronounced deterioration in terms and conditions of employment, and an intensification of work.Personalisation is premised on the notion of empowering service users, which many studies have found increases their satisfaction and wellbeing. However, due to its dual imperative of increasing quality and reducing cost, personalisation can serve to significantly intensify work. In this sense, the demands of austerity and personalisation converge, and create a compound pressure on the voluntary sector employment relationship.In consequence, this research examines firstly, the implications of austerity and personalisation on voluntary sector employment policies; secondly, the impact of subsequent changes to employment policies within voluntary sector organisations on the attitudes of employees; and finally, whether or not these changes in attitudes create tensions between employees and management.At an empirical level, this research provides analysis of four comprehensive case studies, comprised of fifty-five interviews overall and a benchmarking survey of each, situated in the under-researched context of voluntary sector social care in Scotland. This is of pressing importance, given that the UK voluntary sector has grown considerably in recent years (NCVO, 2017), and in light of a growing and aging UK population (ONS, 2017), looks set to continue to do so.This research makes a conceptual contribution to knowledge via a unique conceptual framework, based on the sociology of service work and the psychological contract, as an instrument through which to better understand how personalisation and austerity affect the employment relationship. In doing so, it provides the scope to identify specific issues affecting the workforce, how they respond to them, and what this means for employers, and the sector at large.
Date of Award1 Oct 2016
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorIan Cunningham (Supervisor) & Dennis Nickson (Supervisor)

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