Emotional labour and the childcare crisis in neoliberal Britain

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The unstable situation for childcare workers, parents and carers and young children in the Covid-19 era in the UK has been one of rapid changes, pressurised off-the-cuff decisions (Berry, 2020), and ‘making do’ childcare options alongside seemingly unending and unpredictable policy shifts for care providers and parents, and grandparents alike (Hill, 2020) . It has been an incredibly difficult time for those with caring responsibilities at a point in history when parents, and mothers in particular, were already feeling over-stretched and overburdened (English et al, 2020). The (neo)liberal feminist response to the women who feel overwhelmed with the tasks associated with childcare and general ‘life work,’ referred to by Marxist-Feminists as social reproduction (Farris, 2015; Federici, 1975) is to posit that perhaps they are doing too much ‘emotional labour’ (Broadbent 2018; Hartley 2017; Marcoux, 2019; Toler 2018)- but what does this term mean in neoliberal times? The unsettling transference of the term ‘emotional labour’ from workplace setting to that of interpersonal relationships in the home has been disputed by Hochschild, the term’s originator, (Hochschild in Beck, 2018) but, the term now has a life of its own.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeelings and Work in Modern History
Subtitle of host publicationEmotional Labour and Emotions about Labour
EditorsAgnes Arnold-Forster, Alison Moulds
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Electronic)9781350197206, 9781350197190
ISBN (Print)9781350197183
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2022


  • emotional labour
  • childcare
  • social reproduction
  • consciousness raising
  • care


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