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The nursery workspace, emotional labour, and contested understandings of commoditised childcare in the contemporary UK

Boyer, Kate, Reimer, Suzanne and Irvine, Lauren 2013. The nursery workspace, emotional labour, and contested understandings of commoditised childcare in the contemporary UK. Social & Cultural Geography 14 (5) , pp. 517-540. 10.1080/14649365.2012.710913

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Abstract

Day nurseries are now the most prevalent form of childcare in the UK after grandparents. Yet, in contrast to the considerable administrative attention these spaces attract in terms of certification and oversight, little is known about nurseries as places to work. We extend existing scholarship through an analysis of care practices and emotional labour in day nurseries based on 400 h of participant observation and interviews with twenty-two care workers at five facilities in the South of England. We argue that although hard, draining work, nursery workers can also experience profound emotional connections with the children in their care. We then extend our analysis to argue that various kinds of boundary-work are undertaken in nursery space to both validate strong feelings (including love) between care workers and children, and maintain conceptual coherence over the emotional entitlements of parents and care workers in the context of emotional bonds between carers and children which blur sharp divisions between ‘kin’ and ‘non-kin’. Finally, we mobilise these findings to challenge dominant theoretical conceptualisations of commoditised care as incapable of providing nourishing emotional bonds, as well as portrayals of day nurseries as a priori ‘non-nurturing’ spaces which circulate widely in the UK popular press.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 1464-9365
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:02
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/72028

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Cited 2 times in Web of Science. View in Web of Science.

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