Metaphors to work by: the meaning of personal assistance in England

Tom Shakespeare, Andrea Stockl, Tom Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Personal assistance is an innovative role within social care whereby disabled people directly employ others to provide support. Defining personal assistance as a commodified support relationship is insufficient as it fails to capture the lived complexity of these relationships. The article reports on qualitative interviews in England with 30 disabled people and 30 personal assistants. In the absence of any normative interpretive framework, participants defined their relationships through metaphor: 'paid friends', 'staff' and 'quasi-family. We explore the structure and significance of these descriptors, and offer an overview of the emotional, social and cultural dynamics that shape personal assistance relationship, and give them meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Care and Caring
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Disability
  • metaphor
  • independent living
  • cash for care

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