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Caregiver hands

How do international workers ‘negotiate’ care(er) responsibilities?

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Starting: 2022 / 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Recent global phenomena (e.g., COVID-19, Brexit, etc.) have seen significant socio-cultural, political, and economic changes shifts, affecting who we consider as international workers. International work and careers are no longer reserved for the white, male middle-class, middle-aged elite. We continue to witness changing forms of expatriation, for example self-initiated expatriates (Suutari and Brewster, 2000), hidden expatriates (Haak-Saheem and Brewster, 2017) and inpatriates (Dickmann and Baruch, 2011) to name but a few. A shared feature among these workers is the broadening demographic, accompanied by responsibilities outside of the traditional workplace, such as informal/unpaid care for family and friends. As organizations expand into the global marketplace, there is a need to consider how this growing pool of international workers ‘negotiate’ their care responsibilities alongside careers in paid employment, where career discourses are Westernised, gendered, classed and racialised (Gee et al., in press).  This is alongside developing conceptualisations of work, where informal/unpaid caring is classified as a type of work (Taylor, 2004), which can also be career informing (Oldridge, 2018).

As Baldassar (2016: 145) notes, “caregiving is constitutive of most family and friendship relationships, whether physically ‘proximate’ (face to face) or ‘distant’ (across distance). Thus, the ability to be co-present across distance is important in sustaining transnational family relations”. The notion of distant families has gained attention in the extant literature, for example, transnational migrants, ranging from expatriates (Walsh, 2008) to labour migrants (Lutz and Palenga-Möllenbeck, 2012). Notably, paid care giving has become the largest employment sector for women migrants (Lutz, 2018). Global care has been examined from several perspectives. The Global Care Chain Concept recognised the social cost for migrant workers and the subsequent ‘care gaps’ caused for their family remembers who remain in the country of origin. The Care Circulation Concept offers a different perspective by demonstrating “the power of connectivity, emotional and moral support as a condition for the acceptance of long-term absence and adverse employment conditions” (Lutz, 2018: 582). Finally, Transnational Social Inequality considers individuals who are middle class and educated in their country of origin and relocate for financial gain.   While the existing literature where care and global mobility intersect has focussed on individuals who relocate to undertake paid care work, less attention has been given to how other international workers – who do not undertake paid care work - negotiate their informal/unpaid care responsibilities alongside formal careers. International work presents obvious challenges to care, foremost the absence of physical presence. However, the extant literature has often considered care across national borders in a negative light, implying unusual or lesser forms of care from a position of inadequacy. This perspective is particularly concerned with transnational mothers and the negative implications of caring for children from a distance. The risk of depreciating distant care in this respect is that women – who globally bear the burden of care – could be dissuaded from pursuing international careers due to negative social perceptions. Consequently, the progress made in which women’s representation in the global market has increased may regress. Research on care and migration has originated in the fields of sociology, gerontology and migration studies (Hromadžć and Palmberge, 2018).

This PhD project seeks to examine the intersection of care and career for women working internationally from both a sociological and human resource management approach, taking account of evolving conceptualisations of care, work and career.

Application Enquiries:

Entry qualifications

An applicant should normally hold a Master’s degree at distinction or merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification. International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0). Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements.

How to apply

Please visit our how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and make an application.

Application deadline: 15th August for 1st Oct 2022 start date, or 15th Nov for 1st Jan 2023 start date.

Fees and funding

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. Applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding and we will support this process if and when required. Find out about fees and funding for PhD projects.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Dr Maranda Ridgway