Care relationships
Care relationships

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Care relationships

1.4 Playing to the ‘script’

1.4.1 Taking on a role

You can only succeed with a projection of yourself which other people are prepared to accept. And you then have to play out the scene the way others in the situation expect it to be played.

Reg and Glenda did not start their opening scene from nothing. They were working within widely shared understanding of home help work, which views it as version of ‘housework’. Cleaning and shopping are seen as traditional ‘women’s work’ – low in status, poorly paid and weakly defined in terms of what has to be done and to what standards. It would be difficult for Glenda to project herself to Reg as, for example, a high-powered, career-oriented woman. And Reg would probably feel uncomfortable if she tried. It fits much more comfortably if Glenda projects herself as a homely woman, who enjoys putting the house straight. If she accepts ‘housework’ as the broad frame of reference, she can draw on traditions of everyday relationships between ‘housewives’ and ‘menfolk’, knowing that Reg will be familiar with playing the other side. It is as though they have a ‘script’ to guide them.

Since their relationship is acted out within Reg’s own home, where he has a sense of being ‘in charge’, and since Glenda’s work is of relatively low status, they are on a fairly even footing. (On her side, she has the authority of a paid role for the social services department and the advantage of being the physically able member of the relationship.) Neither of them is in a clearly passive or subordinate role. Both sides have a basis from which to negotiate the terms of the relationship. The ‘script’ they are playing to is not very tightly defined. (In this context the term ‘script’ does not refer to something written down, but rather the kind of language to be used and the general lines along which participants will expect a scene to develop.)

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