An Oral History of the Ethics of Institutional Closure

Ingham, Nigel and Atkinson, Dorothy (2013). An Oral History of the Ethics of Institutional Closure. Ethics and Social Welfare, 7(3) pp. 241–256.



This paper examines the ethical dimensions of the closure process of an English large long-stay institution for people with learning difficulties during the last quarter of the twentieth century. It does this primarily through an analysis of oral historical interview data stemming from those managers who implemented rundown. The paper illustrates the ways in which their testimonies indicate the presence of a morally infused dominant rhetoric, which was based upon the therapeutic benefits of closure, informed by the ideas of normalisation and social role valorisation. However, the paper argues that this principled managerial perspective had unfortunate ethical consequences, in that it under-acknowledged, marginalised and discredited staff viewpoints which raised pertinent issues relating to the downsizing of this particular hospital.

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