Defining Vulnerability

Jonathan Herring

in Vulnerable Adults and the Law

Published in print January 2016 | ISBN: 9780198737278
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191800757 | DOI:
Defining Vulnerability

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This chapter examines the difficulties in defining the concept of vulnerability. It argues that disagreements mainly centre on two schools of thought. One notion claims that vulnerability is universal and an inevitable part of the human experience. The other notion believes that it is more profitable to recognize that there are particular individuals or groups of individuals who suffer particular vulnerabilities. The chapter also explores the legal understanding of vulnerability, as it plays a significant role in debates concerning welfare reform and the extent to which someone can be expected to find work and/or is entitled to claim benefits by analysing the definition of vulnerability as stated in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, an Act that makes provisions in connection to the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Keywords: vulnerability; Martha Fineman; disability; autonomy; interdependence; relational

Chapter.  16834 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Medical and Healthcare Law

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