Exploring women’s mutuality in confronting care-precarity: ‘Care Accounts’ – a conceptual tool

Anni Raw, Linda McKie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exploring scholarship in reciprocity, gift and gendered social capital, and drawing upon research and analysis across 15 years (2003–2018), this article offers fresh theoretical insights into everyday practices of low-paid women with care responsibilities. Framing women’s pragmatic mutuality in confronting precarity in their care arrangements, we propose the concept of ‘Care Accounts’, articulating a practice of collaborative workplace problem solving. Women lodge and generate good will with colleagues by swapping or extending their shifts to cover for each other; generating capacity and continuity of care across unexpected family events or crises. Systems of reciprocal workplace mutuality – care/work micro-networks – build as women pool their capacity to respond. We highlight, however, an ensnarement effect of Care Accounts, as they further lock women into low paid jobs. We suggest priority attention must be given to the prevalence and urgency of ‘care-precarity’ and the dereliction in care planning that Care Accounts reveal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Care Accounts
  • care precarity
  • feminist
  • flexibility
  • gendered ensnarement
  • interdependency
  • social capital
  • theory
  • women


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