In defence of care

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Throughout the literature it is clear that care is a contested concept. What theories on care evidence however is the broadly conceived of contrast between the ethics of justice and the ethics of care. Whilst the former takes as its starting point distance and objectivity, the latter starts from the premise that individuals are connected; to care for someone is to hold in mind some form of inter-human interaction as the basis for organising human relationships. This paper seeks to examine the contribution made by one care theorist, Carol Gilligan, for the way in which her ideas offer a partner to the ways in which education is currently constructed throughout much of the western world. Specifically, I note that neoliberal conceptions currently hold sway in the drive to organise educational systems, and as such, attainment has become the measure for educational success. In turn, such a conception adopts justice orientations for the way in which it organises and controls. This, then, lauds the ‘oughtness’ of the educational venture; that is to say, it holds up as exemplars specific facets of educational improvement as the means by which we might judge the veracity of educational systems and processes. In contrast I examine Gilligan’s work for the ways in which it counters such mechanisms through its celebration of a different voice. Here I chart how a care ethic might orient public education. However, I also sound a warning: the neoliberal line holds court in the drive to design education; to simply cite care as the foil to this is problematic. For in so doing lies the danger that care is simply ignored due to the paternalistic hold justice conceptions have. To this end I propose that care be seen as a complement to, rather than a contrast for neoliberalism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2013
Event15th Annual Conference of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) - Athens, Greece
Duration: 19 May 201322 May 2013


Conference15th Annual Conference of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER)


  • care ethics
  • educational systems
  • public education


Dive into the research topics of 'In defence of care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this