Good care and capabilities theory: the development of a relational framework for carers and adults with severe disability

Mary Butler


In this paper the capability approach is used to describe the work of family carers of adults with severe disability. This approach provides a framework for equality that takes dependence into account. The philosopher Amartya Sen presses for the necessity to have public discourse in arriving at specific capability frameworks that will meet particular needs. In this paper a capability framework is proposed that might fit the situation of carers. It draws particularly on the work of philosopher Hannah Arendt in “The Human Condition”, and the work of Sarah Ruddich in her classic ethnography “Maternal thinking”. A relational perspective is developed using literary ethnography. The development of this list has the potential to enhance public debate about the use of the capabilities approach with carers and adults with severe disability.


capabilities approach, carers, disability, literary ethnography

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