The capacity to care: gender and ethical subjectivity

Hollway, Wendy (2006). The capacity to care: gender and ethical subjectivity. Women and Psychology. London: Routledge.

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Abstract

Wendy Hollway explores a subject that is largely absent from the topical literature on care. Humans are not born with a capacity to care, and this volume explores how this capacity is achieved through the experiences of primary care, gender development and later, parenting.
In this book, the author addresses the assumption that the capacity to care is innate. She argues that key processes in the early development of babies and young children create the capability for individuals to care, with a focus on the role of intersubjective experience and parent-child relations. The Capacity to Care also explores the controversial belief that women are better at caring than men and questions whether this is likely to change with contemporary shifts in parenting and gender relations. Similarly, the sensitive domain of the quality of care and how to consider whether care has broken down are also debated, alongside a consideration of what constitutes a ‘good enough’ family.
The Capacity to Care provides a unique theorization of the nature of selfhood, drawing on developmental and object relations psychoanalysis, as well as philosophical and feminist literatures. It will be of relevance to social scientists studying gender development, gender relations and the family as well as those interested in the ethics of care debate.

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