Dependence, independence or inter-dependence? Revisiting the concepts of 'care' and 'dependency'

Michael Fine, Caroline Glendinning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Research and theory on dependency' and 'care-giving' have to date proceeded along largely separate lines, with little sense that they are exploring and explaining different aspects of the same phenomenon. Research on 'care', initially linked to feminism during the early 1980s. has revealed and exposed to public gaze what was hitherto assumed to be a 'natural' female activity. Conversely, disability activists and writers who have promoted a social model of disability have seen the language of and policy focus upon 'care' as oppressive and objectifying. 'Dependency' is an equally contested concept: sociologists have scrutinised the social construction of dependency: politicians have social ascribed negative connotations of passivity; while medical and social policy discourse employs the term in a positivist sense as a measure of physical need for professional intervention. Autonomy and independence, in contrast, are promoted as universal and largely unproblematic goals. These contrasting perspectives have led social theory, research and policies to separate and segregate the worlds of 'carers' from those for whom they 'care'. Drawing on the work of Kittay and others, this paper explores the ways in which sociological perspectives can develop new understanding of the social contexts of 'care' and 'dependence'.

LanguageEnglish
Pages601-621
Number of pages21
JournalAgeing and Society
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

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interdependence
Public Policy
Feminism
Research
Caregivers
disability
Language
social construction
feminism
sociologist
politician
autonomy
writer
Dependency (Psychology)
Interdependence
discourse
language
Social Theory

Keywords

  • Ageing
  • Care
  • Dependency
  • Disability
  • Independence
  • Inter-dependence

Cite this

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Dependence, independence or inter-dependence? Revisiting the concepts of 'care' and 'dependency'. / Fine, Michael; Glendinning, Caroline.

In: Ageing and Society, Vol. 25, No. 4, 07.2005, p. 601-621.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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