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Caring Jobs, Working for the Money Published: Sunday, August 1, 1999 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

A growing labor market, in Puerto Rico, is that of caring labor. People looking for caring jobs have to pay attention to the essential aspects of caring: the motivation of caring for other people and the activity of caring for them. Good quality care depends on the developing emotional relationships between a carer and the person cared for. In paid employment, relationships are traditionally assumed to be reduced to an exchange transaction and motivation to be simply monetary. The analytical challenge is to establish whether paying for care neutralizes its quality and authenticity, and vice-versa. This is a growing concern for people performing emotional labor; jobs requiring contact with other people external to or within the organization, face to face or voice to voice contact, especially in service domain.

In the world of reality the relationships developed through paid and unpaid care differ less than talk in terms of the rigid dichotomies of public and private, paid and unpaid and market and non-market would suggest. We share the idea that caring and paid labor are totally compatible. What we have discovered for Puerto Rico is that if new hired are going to be effective in the care jobs, they would have to integrate or balance the vocation for care with the paid aspects of such tasks. This is important for understanding the employment nature of caring labor, stressing that what people hope to take from work is not just pay and that meaning, contribution and purpose cannot be fully understood in monetary terms. To this extent, one can justify the distinction between work and labor, in which work always contains a non-commodified element while labor is fully commodified.

The new job market is looking for workers that work hard for the money, but at the same time are givers. Money does not fully motivate the new employees to work; nor does it exhaust the value of their activity. Work is understood not as separate from life and self, but rather as part of the worker and constitutive of him or her. Nor is work understood as separate from relations with other people. Indeed, this is the profound definition of service, meaning people relating to each other…

This is the new sociology of work in which people will have to identify with their work and take pride about caring and the achieved results. Caring occupations (teachers, managers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, sales and service people receptionists, and secretaries) have to balance emotional and monetary concerns, and also care about the results of their work.

 


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