Renewing the social vision of care

Michael Fine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Care is a fundamental condition of human existence, an inherently social activity. Yet surprisingly, care has only recently begun to receive serious attention from social researchers and the public. Despite the fact that care has become a public issue over the past twenty-five years or so, current thinking in policy and advocacy for carers has developed an overtly narrow and self-limiting focus with a strong emphasis on the plight of primary or sole carers, with care being seen predominantly as a burden. From looking at Australian policy on carers, it may be concluded that care is essentially understood as a private, individual concern, a one-way activity in which the active agent, the carer, does something to the other, passive, recipient. The challenge posed in this paper is to move beyond this approach to that of a more social conception of care. Following a review of the uses of the terms 'care' and 'carers' in the current Australian policy context, a discussion of the meaning of the term 'care' is presented and an alternative understanding of the term, with the potential of recognising and promoting care as a complex, social outcome is advanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


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