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Conclusion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 September 2022

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Summary

In one sense there can be no conclusion to this book. The chapters represent powerful contributions to an international debate about how to meet both the costs and complex demands of care and the rights of citizens in advanced economies and ageing societies. This debate is very likely to continue into the foreseeable future with no immediately obvious solutions. Several issues, however, are clarified in this volume and some encouraging evidence provided on potential improvements in policy and practice.

One central concern repeated in several chapters and made particularly strongly by Barnes in Chapter Four is that ‘care’ is usually absent from discourses of citizenship, participation and civil renewal. The ‘ethic of care’, as a set of principles and practices, challenges the distinction between public and private virtues and enables connections to be made between care, citizenship and social justice. It encourages policy makers to look beyond conventional boundaries imposed on ‘social care’ and ‘community’ policies and think holistically about the best ways to improve people's lives. This includes not just older people and the conventional candidates included in a narrow interpretation of ‘community care’ but also young people (Stephen and Squires, Chapter Seven; Quilgars, Chapter Ten) and women who, as victims of domestic violence, are often isolated from any type of support (Wilcox, Chapter Eight).

In this context it is important that we do not overlook inequalities of care and the much more acute problems faced in meeting the care needs of those discriminated against on grounds of ethnicity or poverty. As Butt (Chapter Nine) reveals, black and minority ethnic communities’ experiences of care are very variable and only rarely promote choice and control. This is less the result of inadequate legislation than the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and the imposition of a white, ethnocentric perception of care, which often fails to identify the needs of those living in diverse communities. The suggestion that a community development approach may be best for meeting the needs of black and minority ethnic communities, and indeed any groups experiencing discrimination and disadvantage, needs to be taken seriously in the social care world. It is endorsed in Germany by Bönker (Chapter Fifteen), who quotes how the traditional provision of social services through local welfare associations was very effective in meeting the demands of citizens in diverse, multicultural communities.

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Chapter
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Care, Community and Citizenship
Research and Practice in a Changing Policy Context
, pp. 281 - 286
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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