Seven Kinds of Work - Only One Paid: Raced, Gendered and Restructured Work in Social Services


  • Donna Baines McMaster University


Labor movement, Political activists, Social workers, Unpaid labor, Women in community development


Drawing on the literature as well as themes emerging from interview data collected as part of a multi-year, three-province (Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia), qualitative study (eighty-three semi-structured interviews) of the restructured social services sector in Canada, this article explores discernible types of caring work delineating seven kinds, only one of which is paid. The social service workers' description of their changing worlds show not only extremely heavy workloads but also that their paid, volunteer, community, and union activist work involve many of the same skills, tasks and mind sets, thus blurring the lines between professional and non-professional identities as well as the lines between work and leisure. Moreover, this work was highly gendered and significantly racialized.


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Author Biography

Donna Baines, McMaster University

Donna Baines is cross-appointed to Labour Studies and Social Work at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Her work focuses on the changing work world of social service workers.