Relational research and producing knowledge about care

25 Apr 2022

Hosted byCareVisions in partnership with ISS21

Presenter: Dr Lizzie Ward, Principal Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton (UK)

Recording available: here


This seminar considers how knowledge about care is produced. Within care ethics the ‘epistemological dimension’ of care is recognised in the concept of ‘responsiveness’ in which attention to the care-receiver’s experience informs the care process at the micro level. But most knowledge about care is produced without the inclusion of care-receivers and without regard to their lived experiences of care. Within policy and practice, where marketized care systems are informed by neoliberalism, ‘knowledge’ about care is dominated by managerial concerns about care provision using audit and measurement of time and task approaches where care provided in measurable units (the 15 minute care calls). These approaches exclude lived experiences of what it is like to need care, to ‘do’ care – the relationships and processes that contribute to what ‘care’ is. Within the context of research, the epistemological dimension of care ethics, closely relates to the participatory approach and relational research practices we (myself and colleagues) have sought to develop working with older co-researchers. For us, the research process itself is as important as the research findings.  What we are able to say about our research findings derives from the way in which we carried out the research as a team that included older people as co-researchers, so not just what we found out but how we found it out is fundamental. Relational research practice is grounded in ethical imperatives for inclusive research but moreover it enables co-produced knowledge about care based on lived experiences that can directly challenge the underpinning assumptions of a neoliberal framework of marketized care.


Dr Lizzie Ward is a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton (UK). Lizzie is a qualitative researcher and her interests include age and ageing, care ethics, participatory research and experiential knowledge, gender and feminist methodologies. She works in the field of community participatory research and has a particular interest in co-production and working with older people as co-researchers. She has published in the areas of applying care ethics to research practice and social care practice with older people.

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