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Embracing dependency: rethinking (in)dependence in the discourse of care

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This article analyses and challenges the categories of dependency and independence as they feature in discourses on care for older people in two countries, Austria and the UK. Using critical discourse analysis of newspaper extracts and transcripts of focus group discussions, I demonstrate how independence and self-sufficiency are constructed as ideals for human existence. Being dependent, on the other hand, is seen as the expression of an inferior state of life. Three possible challenges to the ideal of independence in the literature on care are then discussed. The paper shows how, through their focus on empowerment, mutuality and reciprocity, they each reproduce aspects of dependency as anathema to contemporary ideas of personhood, to fall short of a fruitful critical intervention into orthodox discourses on older people and care. In contrast, this article argues for embracing a notion of dependency built upon new conceptualizations of the body, of relating and of the conditions of a good life.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham in the UK

Publication date: 01 December 2010

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