Mexicana Elder Care Providers and Their Wards
This chapter examines private elder care in a broader context of constructed kinship relations by focusing on Mexicana elder care workers in Santa Barbara, California. More specifically, it considers the case study of Cecilia Ramos, a worker who forms part of a family care group and who literally and figuratively “extends” kinship to her ward. Before discussing Cecilia's case, the chapter provides an overview of the evolving range of elder care in Santa Barbara. It also reviews the literature on domestic work and the role that personalism continues to play within the occupation, especially as it pertains to workers' expressed desires for closer “family” relations with their employers. It concludes by showing that, in the case of Cecilia, “extending” kinship assumes two meanings. First, she literally extends her own close kin relations into the workplace and facilitates friendships among her biological female kin and her ward. Second, Cecilia commits herself and her family to provide care until her ward dies.
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