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Changing social relations: A study exploring the roles, responsibilities and relationships of employers with learning difficulties and their personal assistants.

Graham, Katherine (2011) Changing social relations: A study exploring the roles, responsibilities and relationships of employers with learning difficulties and their personal assistants. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Cash payments in the form of direct payments have become an essential tool in the distribution and provision of social care support. This development has been hailed to represent ‘a potentially revolutionary challenge to [the] unequal relationship between providers and receivers of care’ (Glasby & Littlechild 2002: 137), which has shifted the position of social care recipients from ‘service users’ to commissioners, developers and managers of their own support and created the role of personal assistant. This thesis explores this challenge through the experiences of newly created ‘employers’ with learning difficulties and their personal assistants, within the discourses of independence, choice, control and empowerment which stand as central principles within the personalisation agenda (DH 2007a; DH 2007b). The personalisation agenda is argued to be situated within the at once competing and complementary analysis of the Independent Living Movement and New Labour’s analysis of the ‘new global realities’ (Cerny & Evans 2004), which requires a re-negotiation between the citizen and the state. These direct employment relationships represent one of the critical points at which our relationship with the state is in the process of flux. It is this, our relationship with the state in social care, heralding new forms of responsibilised citizenship in the form of citizen-consumers (Clarke et al 2007) and citizen entrepreneurs (Scourfield 2007), in combination with the changing social relations of support in the form of personal assistants, that is of interest. Drawing on disability studies and feminist analysis situated within the political economy, this thesis explores, with equal interest, the experiences of employers and personal assistants. Whilst it is clear from this project and others (Gramlich et al 2002; Stainton & Boyce 2004; Prideaux et al 2009) that directly employing personal assistance offers the opportunity to create a personalised support arrangement, however questions emerged around the equality of that opportunity and implications for a workforce which has historically remained low status, low paid and unsupported (Ungerson 1997a). These questions brought into perspective how ‘empowerment’ is experienced and encouraged an analysis in which support relationships are characterised as much by ‘interdependence’ as ‘independence’, questioning the extent to which the ‘commodification’ (Ungerson 1997b) of support represented the value, or lever of empowerment. Rather, it was the personal and in-formalised aspects of these relationships that offered value and which returns us to a recognition of the social in the personal.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
Depositing User: Katherine Graham
Date Deposited: 29 May 2012 14:05
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2425

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