Chapter 19: Ethics of Care
Kari Wærness A new moral discourse on care comes into being Feminist academic work on the issue of care developed rapidly in many Western countries after it was put on the agenda in the 1970s and experienced a renaissance as an academic topic in the 1980s. We can distinguish between, on the one hand, studies that place emphasis on care as work and, on the other hand, those that place emphasis on the emotional aspects (Abel and Nelson 1990; see also Finch and Groves 1983). Both were important constituents of the growing scientific discourse on care and within both care was studied as physically and emotionally demanding unpaid work that women carry out in the home. This early work was later criticized because it was too one-sided, for focusing only on the caregivers and not on those who receive care and for discussing unpaid care and not care as paid and professional work (Morris 1991/92). In contrast, the Nordic discourse, even then, included both paid and unpaid care work. One reason for this could be that crucial state welfare services were already defined as ‘care’, and a different research tradition based on socio-economic welfare expertise was already established long before there was any feminist research. ‘Caregiving work’ was defined as only a part of smaller caring activities, delimited to help, support, and services given on a consistent and reliable basis to persons who according to generally accepted social norms are dependent: the children, the ill, the disabled, and the...
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