A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy
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A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett

The current context of social policy is one in which many of the old certainties of the past have been eroded. The predominantly inward-looking, domestic preoccupation of social policy has made way for a more integrated, international and outward approach to analysis which looks beyond the boundaries of the state. It is in this context that this Handbook brings together the work of key commentators in the field of comparative analysis in order to provide comprehensive coverage of contemporary debates and issues in cross-national social policy research.
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Chapter 8: The Paradox of Care: A Chinese Confucian Perspective on Long-term Care

Julia Tao


Julia Tao Introduction This chapter begins with a critical analysis of the paradox of care in the contemporary social policy approach to long-term care, arising from the institutionalization of care, the devaluation of care as an instrumental good, and the emphasis on autonomy as the central value of public care provision. It argues for an alternative moral framework, grounded in an ethic of human dignity, instead of in the supreme value of autonomy, to guide the provision of long-term care. It draws on the intellectual resources of the Chinese Confucian moral tradition to support the re-casting of dependency and caregiving as a moral good and re-conceptualizing the nature of human need and social obligation to allow for a more adequate response to long-term care in the final stage of life. Using Hong Kong as a case study, the chapter concludes by further examining how Confucian notions of care, human dignity and reciprocity have shaped a family-based approach to care-giving in a highly cosmopolitan Chinese society, thereby providing a sharp contrast to its Western counterparts where social policy is more generally guided by the values of rights and autonomy. First paradox of care: care and dignity Upholding the human dignity of the elderly person is widely accepted as an important goal of long-term care policies, across cultures and societies. Commitment to a measure of dignity in the final stage of human life is commonly found in government policy statements, public consultation documents, professional practice guidelines and relevant academic debates on long-term...

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