Making Sense of Care

Mirian Barnes

The paper is focused on relationship between family carers and those they support, and the meaning of care, that emerged from the narratives of caregivers. Starting with the stories of 12 family carers, based on narrative life history interviews, the author attemps to counter approaches which emphasise deficits and problems and which decontextualise caring relationships, both in the way in which care is researched, and in the way in which policies and practices provide and support care. In this paper, the feministic ethic of care is presented. This approach challenges the notion of care as a natural expression of women’s capabilities, as well as the idea that it is only some people who need care, and recognises that we are all givers and receivers of care at some points in our lives. From this perspective, the meaning of care goes beyond one to one relationships between care providers and care receivers. Considering this significance of care, its implications for the quality of welfare are discussed.