Ethnomorality of Care : Migrants and their Aging Parents book cover
1st Edition

Ethnomorality of Care
Migrants and their Aging Parents

ISBN 9780815354031
Published July 10, 2018 by Routledge
214 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

What happens when the parents of migrants age and need care in mobile and aging societies? Ethnomorality of Care acts as a window in sharing how physical distance challenges family-centered elderly care by juxtaposing transnational families with non-migrant families.

A novel approach that explores intentions and moral beliefs concerning elderly care alongside practical care arrangements, Ethnomorality of Care presents a concept of care which recognizes how various factors shape the experience of care, including: national, regional, and local contexts, economic inequalities, gender, care and migration regimes. Based on the findings of a multi-sited research carried out between 2014 and 2017 in Poland and the UK, this perceptive volume also seeks to demonstrate how researchers and practitioners can use ethnomorality of care approach to examine non-migrant families and other types of care.

Helping readers to better understand the lived experience of care receivers and givers beyond kinship care, Ethnomorality of Care will appeal to graduate students, researchers, policy makers and care practitioners interested in fields such as migration studies, transnational studies and social and cultural gerontology.

Table of Contents


List of Figures


List of abbreviations

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Ethnomorality of care: theoretical framework

What is care? From the existing approaches to ethnomorality of care

Inner diversity of care

Care in relationships

Process and agency in care

Local contexts and cultures of care

Care as a morally-informed concept

Care - migration nexus

Long distance care provision and emotional care

Delegation of care tasks and coordination of care activities

Cultural differences between the place of origin and the migration destination

Ethnomorality of care

Towards an emic definition of care

Conclusions – care-contact continuum

Chapter 3: How to study ethnomorality of care? Research methodology

Multi-sited transnational research

Mixed-method research

Monographic study of Kluczbork and Końskie

Quantitative components of the research

Ethnographies of local care regimes

Researching care through in-depth interviews

Recruiting interviewees from Kluczbork and Końskie in the UK

Benefits and challenges of matched sample in research on transnational families

Data analysis

Ethical issues in researching elderly care

Chapter 4: Main actors of care and local care regimes in two studied locations

Care actors

Polish care regime

Local care regimes


Public institutions


Third sector

Informal non-familial individuals

Transnationalization of local care regimes


Chapter 5: Care as a part of moral beliefs on old age

Norms as a part of the Polish care culture

Normative beliefs on care for the elderly people in the two towns

Normative discourse on care in the old age

Values as a basis of beliefs on family care provision…

…and its morally justified limitations

Beliefs on the quality of institutional care provision

Moral dilemmas regarding the financing and organization of institutional care

Migration-driven changes in beliefs on care

The place of caregiving in the normative beliefs on the old age


Chapter 6: Care intentions – envisaging elderly care

Declarations of care commitment

Excuses and justifications

Local siblings as default caregivers

The moral equation of care


Appeals to migrants’ well-being

Appeals to parents’ well-being

Appeal to the good quality of institutional care

"Whatever will be, will be" and wishful thinking (performatives)


Chapter 7: Typology of care arrangements

Limited care

Emotional support

Material support: emotional gifts

Material support: instrumental gifts

Financial support

Personal assistance

Loose network of care

Sociability in later life

Networks of "latent" actors

Collaboration, division of tasks and coordination within networks

Dense network of care

Health condition, intermediary types and type-switching

Diversity of dense networks of care

Role of public in-home care services in the networks of care

Principal care provider

Familial principal care provider

Every day of frailty

Health condition – diseases, frailty and suffering

Daily care tasks

The experience of hands-on daily care

Engagement of other social actors

Migrants in families of frail and dying parents

Institutional principal care provider

Nursing home as a shelter

Nursing home as a social milieu

Coordination within the institution

The role of family and close non-familial individuals


Chapter 8: Adding a temporal dimension: Care sequences and flows

Care sequences

Intensification of care arrangement

The same care arrangement in spite of higher levels of dependency

Reduced or less complex care

Occasional intensification of care arrangement

Seasonal sequence of care arrangements

Care flows

Personal care provided by the elder adults

Personal care provided for the grandchildren abroad

Personal care for an adult child

Material care provided by the elder adults

Financial care provided by the elder adults

Emotional care provided by the elder adults


Chapter 9: Ethnomoralities of care – Conclusions

From ethnomorality to ethnomoralities

Regional differences in the ethnomoralities of care

Socio-economic differences in the ethnomoralities of care

Gender differences in the ethnomoralities of care

Ethnomoralities of care and intergenerational solidarity in the families

Application of ethnomorality of care perspective in future research

Future: Brexit and the elderly care in transnational Polish families


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Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna is Assistant Professor and Project Manager at the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, Poland

Anna Rosinska-Kordasiewicz is a Research Fellow at the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, Poland

Weronika Kloc-Nowak is a Researcher at the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, Poland


This book is a highly original exploration of the complex negotiations of moral and practical issues faced by transnational families with ageing relatives. Through the skillful analysis of the multifaceted interrelations of beliefs, intended actions and actual practices of care we get a better understanding of the moral, relational and political challenges to local, national and transnational care arrangements. Ethnomorality of Care provides a much needed cohesive perspective in times of ageing migrating societies.

Bernhard Weicht is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Innsbruck and the author of The Meaning of Care.

This excellent and fascinating book breaks new intellectual ground developing the concept of the ethnomorality of care to extend understanding of what Polish families think about, intend to do about and actually do about the care of ageing family members in the context of high rates of outward migration and low levels of state provision for elder care. Based on an ambitious research design composed of surveys, indepth interviews and ethnogaphic observations spanning Poland and the UK, Radziwinowiczówna, Rosińska-Kordasiewicz and Kloc-Nowak offer the reader a rich body of data, which is presented in an eminently readable manner. Their insightful analysis will have resonance beyond Poland, particularly in other Central and Eastern European countries experiencing similar challenges related to rapid population ageing, high rates of emigration and social and economic transition.

Majella Kilkey is Reader in Social Policy at the University of Sheffield and editor of Family Life in An Age of Migration and Mobility. Global Perspectives through the Life Course.

The authors of this study are after a[n] all-encompassing analytical concept, one that captures ‘care as outstretched between lived social norms defined in moral terms (moral beliefs), care intentions and actions (care arrangements)’. For this purpose, they have devised a new term, the ‘ethnomorality of care’ … By exploring the ethnomorality of care in two communities □– the provincial Polish towns of Końskie and Kluczbork –□the authors sought to assess how well their members were able to put into practice the types and level of care presented as ideal. The inhabitants of these communities overwhelmingly declared their support for care by – and within – families. However as the authors discovered, changing economic and social conditions, such as deindustrialisation, increased female labour force participation and migration, challenged families’ ability to adhere to this norm, despite paying lip service to it.

Sonya Michel is Professor Emerita at the University of Maryland and editor of Women, Migration, and the Work of Care: The United States in Comparative Perspective and Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States: An American Dilemma? Book review appeared in the International Journal of Care and Caring.