Bar Ilan University, Israel
Several recent studies have traced processes of de-professionalization in the social services. Some have argued that the de-professionalization that occurs through the practices of employing assistant nurses, assistant social workers and assistant teachers has opened new opportunities for women from lower strata social categories who enter the labor market with few or no qualifications. These employment opportunities, however, were conceptualized by feminist authors as reflecting deteriorating quality of jobs in the public sector. Moreover, it was reported that when the resulting job got to be negotiated by employees’ representatives it had little influence. To understand the relative weakness of this resistance I interviewed administrators in the Israeli health, education and welfare ministries, involved in the tendering of services set for procurement. My data analysis suggests that women in charge of occupational standard whose historical role has been protecting occupational standard lose their voice and their authority in negotiating occupational standards with budgeting administrators. In this way employees’ representatives are left alone without their allies in the ministries. These findings suggest that solidarity with these administrators and with women whose employment conditions are negotiated in the tendering process, requires a feminist coalition working in co-operation in all OECD countries. The paper discusses the various social forces who could take part in such a coalition supporting the women movement in reclaiming a dialogical professionalization in the social services. A dialogical professionalization would restore skill recognition, payment scales, team work, standards of workloads and appropriate training for all care and service employees.