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Cultures of Care is an ongoing research project that seeks to make a positive intervention in response to the current crisis of care

What makes a “culture of care”?

Many commentators have been drawing attention to a ‘crisis of care’ – see, for example, The Care Manifesto of The Care Collective (2020), Labours of Love The Crisis of Care by Madeleine Bunting (2020) or Emma Dowling’s The Care Crisis (2021)). The global COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened attention on the need to re-think care and redefine our values and the ways in which we reproduce and/or transform them. In calling attention to this crisis of care there are perhaps two main issues to address. First, the need to visibilise the often invisible care work that underpins our economies and our socities – the very weave of our social fabric. Second, that in tandem with this process of visibilsation, we must also re-value care and care-work, recognising it for the absolutely vital role it plays in all our lives.

The premise underpinning “cultures of care” is that in the process of redressing how we understand (visibilise and value) contemporary care work – work that is focused on child-care, domestic care, health care, social care, care for the elderly, and palliative care – we also come to visibilise and value the role of care in respect of all productive and ‘good’ work. This is not to relativise care work, nor to appropriate the language of care for neoliberal ends; it is not an exercise in ‘care-washing’. Rather, it is to offer an alternative complementary tactic that responds to the crisis of care – one that seeks to avoid an unintended positioning of care work against other forms of work, and instead recognises, supports and enables cultures of care everywhere, in all walks of life. In so doing, the value of the vital life-sustaining role of care workers – be they working with children, families, patients, elderly or the dying – will be properly recognised. More than this, such work will also come to be visibilised and valued in and across our institutions, organisations, industries and society as a whole.

Cultures of Care asks questions about the nature of care itself. Our starting point is:

Culturesour systems of value recognition

Carethose practices that maintain, continue and/or repair our world in order to live as well as possible, requiring the ability to see/hear others’ needs and to take responsibility to fulfil these needs

Cultures of carethe cultures we reproduce and transform everyday that enable us to care and be cared for

Cultures of Care is based out of the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI), King’s College London. The first stage of this research is exploring cultures of care in the context of Higher Education.