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Constrained by managerialism: caring as participation in the voluntary social services

Cunningham, I.R. (2010) Constrained by managerialism: caring as participation in the voluntary social services. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 31 (3). pp. 1-24. ISSN 0143-831X

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Abstract

The data in this study show that care is a connective process, underlying and motivating participation and as a force that compels involvement in the lives of others, care is at least a micro-participative process. Care or affinity not only persisted in the face of opposition, but it was also used by workers as a counter discourse and set of practices with which to resist the erosion of worker participation and open up less autonomized practices and ways of connecting with fellow staff, clients and the communities they served. The data suggest that while managerialism and taylorised practice models may remove or reduce opportunities for worker participation, care is a theme or storyline that gave workers other ways to understand their work and why they did it, as well as ways they were prepared to resist managerial priorities and directives, including the erosion of various kinds of direct and indirect participation. The degree of resistance possible, even in the highly technocratic worksite in Australia, shows that cracks and fissures exist within managerialism.