Chapter

Reconceptualising dependency, responsibility and rights

Hartley Dean

in The ethics of welfare

Published by Policy Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9781861345622
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303763 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861345622.003.0011
Reconceptualising dependency, responsibility and rights

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This book has demonstrated the ways in which dependency, responsibility and rights are connected. Part One of the book argued that any concept of rights capable of encompassing rights to social welfare must be based on a celebration of human interdependency and an ethical concept of social responsibility. Embracing human interdependency means rethinking the context in which people can demand autonomy as human beings. Conceptualising social responsibility means overcoming ethically constrained notions of duty, obligation or obedience in order to bring moral sensibility to bear upon the ethics of public sphere. Part Two recounted the findings from recent empirical research on popular and welfare provider discourses. It shows that such discourses can recognise that interdependency is an unavoidable feature of human life course and that certain kinds of rights do attach to people by virtue of their humanity. Part Three focused on the perspectives of welfare service users; the way they negotiate their dependency on the state; the nature of the disciplines to which they are subject; and the ways in which they understand their individual responsibilities. This concluding chapter brings together all the arguments that have been developed. It proposes that human relationships and the interdependency they entail are a good in and of themselves; that ‘third way’ notions of responsibility are ethically deficient; and that prevailing concepts of right remain fundamentally impoverished. The chapter concludes by returning to the theme addressed in Chapter One and to make the case for a human rights approach to social welfare.

Keywords: dependency; responsibility; rights; social welfare; human interdependency; social responsibility; welfare provider discourses; human relationships

Chapter.  7913 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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