"Home Care Fault Lines": New Book by Dr. Cynthia Cranford

August 27, 2020 by Jeremy Nichols


Dr.Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Professor Cynthia Cranford studies inequalities of gender, work and migration, and collective efforts to resist them..

Dr. Cranford includes a brief description of the book in the biography listed on her contact page:

Dr. Cranford’s book, Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances (2020, Cornell University Press)  analyzes the dynamics that exacerbate, and alleviate, tensions between elderly and disabled people’s quest for flexible services and workers’ pursuit of security. Cranford compares four programs providing support to adults with physical disabilities and elderly people across and within class and racial lines, inside and outside of families, and provided to, and by, both women and men in Toronto and Los Angeles. This qualiative analysis is based on interviews with over three hundred people, including the elderly and disabled people who use home care services, the workers that directly provide them and key informants from government, employers, disability advocates, and labor organizers. To support both flexible care and secure work, Cranford argues we need deeply democratic alliances to advocate for universal state funding, design culturally sensitive, labour market intermediaries to assist in finding workers and jobs, and to address everyday tensions in home-workplaces. Two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada grants supported this book project.

The book’s publisher, University of California Press, includes the following synopsis on their website:

In this revealing look at home care, Cynthia J. Cranford illustrates how elderly and disabled people and the immigrant women workers who assist them in daily activities develop meaningful relationships even when their different ages, abilities, races, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds generate tension. As Cranford shows, workers can experience devaluation within racialized and gendered class hierarchies, which shapes their pursuit of security.

Cranford analyzes the tensions, alliances, and compromises between security for workers and flexibility for elderly and disabled people, and she argues that workers and recipients negotiate flexibility and security within intersecting inequalities in varying ways depending on multiple interacting dynamics.

What comes through from Cranford's analysis is the need for deeply democratic alliances across multiple axes of inequality. To support both flexible care and secure work, she argues for an intimate community unionism that advocates for universal state funding, designs culturally sensitive labor market intermediaries run by workers and recipients to help people find jobs or workers, and addresses everyday tensions in home workplaces.