Feminist economists are studying marketised care services, such as nursing homes, as the intersection of the performance of ‘care’, traditionally unpaid and provided within families by women, and ‘work’ as a paid means of earning a living. During research towards her doctoral thesis on how aged care nurses experience their care work, the author noticed that nurses understated the conditions in which they worked. Seeking to understand how nursing culture shapes how nurses describe their work, she developed a ‘toolbox’ of reflexive methods. These included analysis of both metaphors of nursing and emotion expressed as laughter during interviews, and autoethnography, all grounded in a feminist epistemology. These pluralist methods made explicit some of the effects of gendered socialisation and its importance for understanding marketised caring labour. This combination of methods has significance for uncovering workplace culture in other forms of marketised caring.
Valerie Adams and University of South Australia 2006