An economy of abandonment

    HEALTHCARE: Is reinstalling empathy the only fix to society's current crisis of caring.

    The Care Crisis
    Author: Emma Dowling
    Publisher: Verso Books, UK

    The restructuring of welfare states in Europe and North America as the result of the imposition of austerity measures following the Global Financial Crisis is ‘one facet of a manifest global care crisis’. Britain today faces an ageing population, and subsequently, an increasing number of dementia patients with care needs. The cuts on public spending resulted in a shortage of resources and care facilities, affecting health care services in general, including resources to mental health services and exhausting health care providers, including doctors, nurses and carers. Cuts have also depleted the social provision of ‘nursery schools’, ‘education maintenance allowances’, unemployment and disability benefits, ‘community services’, and the means to address the ‘needs of migrants fleeing war’ in the last decade.

    Emma Dowling
    Emma Dowling

    In her first book, Emma Dowling propounds a compelling and well-researched argument that traces the ways in which the private and financialised sector was given the opportunity to invest and profit from social and health care provision since the 1970s in Britain. According to Dowling, Margaret Thatcher’s infamous statement that there is ‘no such thing as society’ is less about individualism as such, but instead a petition for ‘private and personal responsibility.’ Under a neoliberal logic, care is understood as an individual moral obligation rather than a social and therefore collective, even public responsibility. This is the reasoning behind the depletion of public provision of social and health care, resulting in the implementation of a series of ‘care fixes’ through private investment that aggravates even further the care crisis.

    Under a neoliberal logic, care is understood as an individual moral obligation rather than a social and therefore collective, even public responsibility

    Dowling defines care ‘as all the supporting activities that take place to make, remake, maintain, contain and repair the world we live in and the physical, emotional, and intellectual capacities required to do so.’ This means that care is ‘central to the reproduction of society’ and ‘part of a fundamental infrastructure that holds . . .

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    Patricia Sequeira Brás
    Patricia Sequeira Brás teaches Portuguese Modern Cultures. The relationship between politics and cinema that motivated her doctoral work continues to shape her new research projects. Her current interests include representations of crises in cinema and video; explorations on film viewership and political and ethical engagements; communicative and affect capitalism. These interrogations are informed by work from an array of disciplinary fields within the humanities: film theory, philosophy, political theory and recent research in neuroscience.

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