Care as a political category

While presenting a short outline in his discussion of Fabienne Brugère’s book Care Ethics. The Introduction of Care as Political Category, editor Sylwin Cornielje elaborates also two themes that Brugère leaves open, as he believes these matters necessarily need to be clarified in order for care to become a convincing ground for political ethics in late modern society.

You can read the full review here

Cornielje’ s conclusion at the end of his review:

One of the fruits of American ethics of care is to have initiated a politicizing of people as embodied care-givers and care-receivers. With a revived emphasis on the political dimension of care and vulnerability, Brugère continues this important endeavor.

Firstly, we have seen that in her book, she attempts to root a political ethics of care in the feminist psychology of Carol Gilligan.

Secondly, it is Gilligan’s feminism and Tronto’s political theory that, according to Brugère, should provide sufficient ground for a profound critique of liberalism. Contemporary (neo)liberal politics rather obscures the interdependent condition of vulnerable beings.

Lastly, it has yet become clear that, when thinking of care, Brugère’s understanding of subjects risks to remain an idealized abstraction from reality. On the one hand, her ontological approach of vulnerability further opens the door to an ecological, or even posthumanist theory of care that would be of immense importance with regard to colossal societal challenges.

On the other hand, although Brugère stresses the need of viewing care as a social practice, she tends to normalize her subjects of care as singular individuals without describing actual ambivalences of what such a conception of subjects actually brings about in care practices that involve, for example, patient-centered care.

A further revival of the notion of cultural class should therefore prove worthwhile for a political ethics of care that does not want to give in to the prescriptive and authoritative morality which Brugère has effectively criticized.

About the author: Sylwin Gilles Cornielje

Sylwin Gilles Cornielje

Sylwin Gilles Cornielje (1991) obtained two master’s degrees in Humanistic Studies in 2018 and Philosophy in 2019. During and after his studies, he worked as a garbage collector, home-carer, musician and teacher. His academic interest focuses on intersections of ethics, social theory, and fieldwork methodology. He is currently looking for available doctoral positions.

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