We are in a crisis of care, one that needs an immediate response. This crisis is experienced in both our everyday lived experiences and in our interactions with the formal health and care systems. Due to factors such as inequality, isolation, ecological breakdown, and a society increasingly demarcated by winners and losers, we feel ourselves to be in a careless world. Our sense of community and solidarity has become eroded. At the same time, the capacity of the care system to respond to these growing needs has become more and more limited due to various resource deficits. Behind these difficulties lies the causal impact of neoliberal economics and ideology.
How then might we revive our commons of care? How to access better care? Two very specific proposals are presented. First, the book sets out to describe a radically reformed system of care for modern Ireland based on incorporating dialogue as its operating principle. Designating genuine dialogue as a mandatory metric by which care is delivered transforms the individual from passive receiver of care into a co-producer, with peers and professionals, of care planning, delivery, and outcomes. Secondly, not only might this animate our caring commons by returning agency to people, the book also proposes a guaranteed basic income as a mechanism to animate new forms of commons practices and to liberate people from precarious and oppressive wage labour. These two changes are intended to shift our imagination beyond its current limitations into a new realm of the possible.
To address our growing crisis of care, this book proposes two immediately achievable reforms. First is to incorporate a genuine dialogic practice into the care system so that receivers of care co-produce care plans and outcomes with professionals. Second is to introduce a guaranteed basic income to animate and resource the caring commons. In this way, the passive object of care becomes an active subject and agent of a transforming care praxis.
Mark Garavan lectures in Social Care in the Atlantic Technological University. He has worked as a social care worker with young people, long-term homeless people, and prisoners. He has written and researched on social care and is active in a number of community and caring organisations.
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