Grounding responsibilization: Women in the care professions in contracted social services nonprofits

Inbar Livnat, Michal Almog-Bar, Michal Soffer, Mimi Ajzenstadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how women working as care professionals in contracted social services position themselves in the neoliberal, marketized era. This case study examined the renowned notion of “responsibilization”—in brief, the transformation of the state's responsibility to the individual. In the 1980s, many countries, including Israel, implemented privatization processes and contracted social services to for-profit and nonprofit social services organizations. The literature so far has shown the negative repercussions on service recipients and employees; however, scarce research exists on the unique working environment and conditions of care professionals with postsecondary education in nonprofit social services organizations. Based on the lacuna and overrepresentation of women in the field, this paper explores the work experiences of female employees in nonprofit social services organizations, including the attitudes and meanings they express in various structural contexts. Forty in-depth interviews with women care professionals in Israeli nonprofit social services organizations were conducted. Participants included Israeli and Palestinian women who reflected diversity in ethnicity, religion, and full-time or part-time jobs. The interviews dealt with employment experiences, work environment, and professional aspirations. Thematic analysis was used. The findings shed light on (a) poor working conditions and violation of workers' rights, (b) the employees' adaptation to the current situation, (c) striving for constant professionalism, and (d) aspiring to initiate a private clinic. Based on the concept of responsibilization, we discuss how the neoliberal realm becomes embedded in the employees' experiences and actions. We also contribute to the theory on responsibilization, suggesting that the nonprofit sector serves as a splitter that decentralizes social problems into local or “private” ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102671
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Care work
  • Contracting out
  • Israel
  • Neoliberalism
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Responsibilization
  • Social services
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Education
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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