Valuing Care in Feminist and Disability Politics, 24 April

24 Apr 2023

Online seminar hosted by the CareVisions research project in affiliation with ISS21:

Valuing Care in Feminist and Disability Politics   

Speaker: Prof. Janice McLaughlin, Sociology, Newcastle University


The concept of care is one of the key points of tension between some aspects of feminist theorising and disability studies. The tension first appeared due to feminist work in the 1970s that argued that women needed to be free of caring responsibilities, with no consideration of what that might mean for those being cared for. When feminist ethics of care work later sought to build moral and political frameworks around care, disability studies scholars also saw that move as disconnected from the ways in which care has been a source of harm for disabled people. The disability movement in contrast has advocated for support and assistance being an important part of enabling independent living. More recently care is being returned to within feminist and disability work looking to refute state narratives of neo-liberalism that emphasise self-reliance as the only legitimate version of independence. The revolving crises of the last decades fed by austerity, the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis require new ways to think about how people living in marginalised locations can live and have their lives valued. Writers and activists are producing radical accounts of care that they argue have the potential to create alternative futures that respond to socially produced experiences of vulnerability and harm. Care networks that emerge in political activism are one such alternative and are often proposed as alternatives to seeking support or protection from the state. This presentation explores these contemporary debates on care and considers whether and how we can work productively with the concept. It advocates for including care in challenging the social harms that occur to disabled people and people living with chronic illness, but in a way that does not absolve the state from responding to the inequalities that create them.


Prof. Janice McLaughlin is a Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University. Her primary research interest can be briefly represented as: exploring how childhood disability or illness is framed from within the worlds of medicine, community, and family. It draws from across disability studies and medical sociology to think about the interrelationships between material conditions, inequality, citizenship, embodiment, and identity. Alongside a long-term research activity involves writing on contemporary feminist social theory, in particular in relation to care, materiality and critical theory. These different areas of work come together at various points, particularly when exploring experiences of and ideas about kinship and care.


Please note this seminar will be recorded as part of the CareVisions seminar series and will be made available online. By attending the meeting, you are consenting to being recorded.

For more on this story contact:

The CareVisions Team at:

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30