Caring as a moral practice: an analysis of the construction of care for elderly people in Austria and the UK

Weicht, Bernhard (2010) Caring as a moral practice: an analysis of the construction of care for elderly people in Austria and the UK. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis investigates the meaning of care in our societies. Everyone will be concerned with care in some way at some point in his/her life. In the UK and Austria economic and social developments challenge traditional family arrangements while the need for care for the elderly is increasing. But how do we understand care and which meaning does care have for us, for our relationships, for our identities and for our understanding of society? How do we want to live together, and how do we want to experience the process of ageing? Understanding the construction of care helps to understand aspects of people’s ideals, motives, attitudes, imaginations, aspirations and desires in life.

This study bridges the theoretical level of broad moral questions and their application in particular situations. Utilising Critical Discourse Analysis in combination with a sample of newspapers and the organisation of focus groups in each country enable an identification of the ‘moral grammar’ of care, i.e. the discourses in which care is constructed. The result is an everyday morality, referring to the way people understand and make sense of their experiences, histories and emotions about care for elderly people.

This moral construction situates care in opposition to an economisation and/or individualisation of society. Care reflects an ambivalent desire of people which can be described as being there for each other. By exploring themes such as relationships, home, community, independence and the commodification of care this thesis demonstrates that, on the one hand, moral assumptions and ideals are underlying the organisation of care and, on the other hand, care itself represents an ideal of being moral. This construction has important consequences for all those involved in caring relationships (as carers and as those being cared for) and any policy making needs to be conscious of it.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Fitzpatrick, T.
Stevenson, N.
Keywords: care, ageing, morality, discourse, ethics of care
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 11414
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2010 14:36
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 14:03

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