Responsibility and welfare: in search of moral sensibility

Shane Doheny

in The ethics of welfare

Published by Policy Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9781861345622
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303763 | DOI:
Responsibility and welfare: in search of moral sensibility

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This chapter reconstructs and analyses the discourses employed by New Labour in a series of press releases dating from the end of its first term of office. This chapter reconstructs these discourses because of their special status as news stories written to be retold by the press and broadcasting media. These discourses have four different constructions of the citizen, each requiring different kinds of information and services; but uncovering the sense of responsibility implied in these discourses means using a theoretical framework sensitive to social constructions of responsibility. In the second section, the chapter applies Dean's taxonomy of discourse of responsibility to map the repertoires New Labour takes up. In order to make sense of the issues involved in this construction of responsibility, the chapter also discusses the contemporary social philosophy of responsibility. It is argued that the communitarian politics of responsibility favoured by New Labour grants authority to the idea that being responsible will benefit the self, and so reduces the moral to a knowledgeable social good. This chapter shows that there are other ways responsibility can be constructed that put ethical and moral solidarity at their core.

Keywords: New Labour; citizenship; social constructions; responsibility; discourses; social philosophy; social good

Chapter.  7997 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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