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Navigating the field of temporally framed care in the Danish home care sector

Category: Visitors Papers


Tufte, P. J. & Dahl, H. M. (2016) Navigating the field of temporally framed care in the Danish home care sector. Sociology of Health and Illness, 38 91), 109-122.

The organisational and temporal framing of elderly care in Europe has changed in the wake of new public management reforms and standardised care services, strict time measurements and work schedules have become central aspects of care work. The article investigates the crafting of care within this framing: how care workers approach the services specified in their rotas, and navigate between needs, demands and opportunities in the daily performance of their duties. Applying feminist theory on time and anthropological theory on social navigation, it examines the practice of home care work in two Danish municipalities. Data are derived predominantly from participant observation. The article identifies two overarching temporal dilemmas in different home care situations: one where process time prevails over clock time and another where the care workers balance the two logics. Focusing on how care workers respond to these dilemmas in practice, the article identifies various navigation tactics, including ‘leaving time outside’, individualised routinisation, working on different paths simultaneously and postponing tasks. These insights provide an additional perspective on the feminist literature on the dilemmas of care and on the feminist literature on time.