Participation, citizenship and a feminist ethic of care

Marian Barnes

in Care, community and citizenship

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9781861348715
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301608 | DOI:
Participation, citizenship and a feminist ethic of care

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This chapter proposes a way of thinking about care as a value relevant to contemporary concerns about the way in which we live together and decide together: concerns that are variously conceptualised within policy discourse by reference to community cohesion, social inclusion, community involvement, and civil renewal. A particular aim is to offer a critique of policy discourses of civil renewal from an ethic of care perspective. Civil renewal, as elaborated in Home Office publications, promotes normative notions of the responsibilities of citizenship. Citizens are exhorted to become involved in voluntary action or participatory projects in order to enhance community cohesion and to promote the general social good. The way in which responsible citizenship is conceptualised within this discourse is contrasted with how people speak about their motivations for involvement in groups of service users and citizens seeking to bring about policies capable of achieving social justice for marginalised or disadvantaged groups. In order to make this comparison, the chapter draws on feminist writing on an ethic of care. It argues that ‘care’ is usually absent from official discourses of citizenship, participation, and civil renewal, and indeed has also become devalued in the context of those policy areas with which it has been more strongly associated – community or social care.

Keywords: community cohesion; social inclusion; community development; civil renewal; social justice

Chapter.  6145 words. 

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