Chapter

Unkind, risk averse and untrusting: if this is today’s society, can we change it?

Baroness Julia Neuberger

in Contemporary social evils

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9781847424099
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301981 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.003.0009
Unkind, risk averse and untrusting: if this is today’s society, can we change it?

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This chapter discusses how gains in child protection and the protection of older people have also, paradoxically, contributed to a stifling of the impulse of kindness. It also shows that society has become less caring, especially for older people, and that the sense of mutual obligation that once existed in communities has ‘taken a battering’. It sees part of the problem as an increasingly ‘risk-averse’ culture among professionals in the caring services, and an obsessive fear of strangers that has encouraged a focus on personal rather than group welfare. Risk aversion has increased a natural human reluctance to get involved. Combined with an aversion to risk, there has been a growing failure of trust. There is a need to reinvent altruism, and take up the challenge which argues that the state cannot do everything for everybody.

Keywords: child protection; older people; kindness; risk-averse; trust; altruism; strangers

Chapter.  4295 words. 

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