Peer-Led Care Practices and ‘Community’ Formation in British Retirement Migration

Abstract

This article uses ethnography of British retirement migration in Spain to explore how care practices among migrant peers operationalize ‘community’ in place. Social, economic and political transformations, including shrinking welfare state provision, family at a distance and marketized care, have generated care deficits. I show how peer-led care practices help mediate these deficits, assisting individuals in ‘getting by’ and providing safeguards against exploitation, while constituting some sense of ‘community’ as well as personal meaning in liquid contexts. However, I show how temporal, spatial and social limitations render this community fragile and exclusive, while practices aimed at mediating between family, state and market, set boundaries of responsibility. Nevertheless, I argue for critical reflection on the potential of these emerging peer-led welfare architectures especially in the contexts of heightened mobility, austerity, transnationalism and an ageing population.

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