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Between care and contract: Ageing Muslim immigrants, self-appointed helpers and ambiguous belonging in the Danish welfare state

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In Europe, a growing population of aging citizens have a migrant background, and many have their origin in non-Western countries. Often, care arrangements in these families are different from those of the majority populations. In Denmark, a growing number of immigrant families utilize an option in the Social Service Act, under which municipalities can contract a family member to take care of an older citizen at home. Due to the special construction of this ‘self-appointed helper arrangement’, the caregiver is both a professional care worker, formally employed by the municipality, and a close relative. As such, the arrangement provides a unique opportunity to examine ideas and practices of care at the intersection between the immigrant family and the state.
Based on data from interviews with and observations among both immigrant families and municipal care managers, we explore the consequences of this care scheme for aging citizens and their self-appointed helpers. Drawing on the concept of ‘lenticular subject positions’, we show how both the self-appointed helpers and the care managers adopt two different, often contradictory, perspectives or subject positions simultaneously.
In general, we argue that the self-appointed helper arrangement constitutes a gray zone in the Danish public health care system, since both care managers and helpers seem to neglect the national legislation and standard procedures in relation to the older citizen and the general work environment. The consequences are most severe for the self-appointed helpers who end up in a particular precarious position at the margins of the Danish labor market.
TidsskriftAnthropology and Aging
Sider (fra-til)112-128
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 2021

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