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Semantics and Significance in Everyday Talk and Practice: Is this Care? Am I a Carer?

Sally Keeling


This paper offers an overview of global and local research and policy surrounding the formal and informal care of older people in New Zealand, alongside a commentary from an anthropological perspective. Particular attention is paid to the language of care, by exploring the ways that older people and their family carers talk about the various principles and actions which form part of ‘care’. The paper thus deals with both cultural semantics, and personal meaning making. Then, analysis of policy documents shows contradictory definitions of the role of ‘carer’, while also making the case that this work is undervalued, in both the informal family field, and in the labour market generally.


informal care; care-work; discourse; public policy

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