Abandoning care? A critical perspective on personalisation from an ethic of care

Marian Barnes

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The adoption of personalisation as the principle on which policy and practices for social care in England should be developed has been hailed as marking a fundamental transformation in the nature of social care and the experiences of service users. This article examines both the discourse of personalization and the practices that are being adopted to implement this from an ethic of care perspective. It adopts an approach based on Sevenhuijsen’s ‘Trace’ analysis to trace the normative frameworks in key policy documents (in particular Putting People First), noting that critics of care have largely succeeded in relegating care to a marginal position within policy discourse and that a relational sensibility is largely absent within this. The article considers conceptions of the ‘individual’ that are assumed by personalisation and the extent to which this reflects the lives and circumstances of social care service users and those who care for them. It considers the practices associated with personalization in relation to the moral principles of an ethic of care. It addresses the implications of this approach for broader political and policy issues: the universality of provision, collective responsibility for welfare and well-being, and broader issues of social justice in conditions of vulnerability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-167
Number of pages15
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Social care
  • transformation
  • care ethics
  • gender
  • disability
  • carers
  • ageing.


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