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Care and Caregiving


Wed 26. 8.  14:00 - 15:30
room FA 204

People used to care for each other: Nostalgic longing for imagined communities


Weicht, Bernhard
University of Innsbruck, Austria

When people talk about care for elderly people references to and comparisons with earlier times and generations are recurrent features. Times are imagined when care was delivered within the family and the local community. Community in this context describes a physical entity, often a particular living arrangement within a specific area, and, at the same time, refers to a conception and agglomeration of particular values, feelings, emotions and associations. In this paper, I discuss the narratives, emotions and values that constitute the positive feeling that community provides in the context of the construction of care. Drawing on political debates and public coverage of care discourses I will show how community is idealised as the realm where relational living is possible and can be performed. This idealisation inevitably leads to a longing for community. People imagine the existence of ‘real’ care always somewhere else or some time gone. (Caring) Communities will thus be described as nostalgically constructed, as representing the better care - either the other country/culture where care is still family based, or the other times when people still cared for each other. The nostalgic idealisation of care inevitably leads to challenges for current arrangements. This paper will evaluate several (social) policies in the realm of care, all of which have to be formulated against the nostalgic image of community care.