Policy Press

Cultures of care

Biographies of carers in Britain and the two Germanies

By Prue Chamberlayne and Annette King


Dec 27, 2000

Page count

240 pages




216 x 138 mm


Policy Press
Cultures of care

This book explores the experiences of informal home carers in the different welfare systems of the former West Germany and East Germany, and Britain. It is innovative in using a biographical case study approach to compare caring situations and caring strategies in the three different societies. The detail and variety of the case studies show how particular social and welfare patterns give rise to recognisable 'cultures of care'.

The authors: 

show how the social relations of caring are structured within and outside the home environment

offer a research tool to take into account the significance of informal networks

use separate analysis of 'lived' and 'told' life stories to highlight personal processes of continuity and change in meeting the challenge of caring

link individual caring strategies to the structural features of welfare societies.

European comparative research creates opportunities for fresh thinking about social policy, showing best practice and piecing together the strengths of each system. The findings of this book underline the significance of caring within social policy agendas and the need to extend and change the parameters of comparative social policy beyond a fixation on social insurance. Cultures of care makes an important contribution to debates about the need to 'strengthen the social' and to build a creative sense of moral agency in welfare systems. It provides a valuable new resource for both academic teaching and the training of social professionals.

"...a valuable addition for both academic and training debates about social policy in these three different environments." Auto/Biography

"... an important and well-written book regarding comparative social policy research." European Journal of Social Work

"... compelling and original ... Colleagues who are teaching social policy, research methods, or practice modules relating to adult services, on health and social care courses at both undergraduate and post-graduate level, or indeed colleagues who wish to engage in research with carers, will find this text to be an extemely useful resource." Journal of Interprofessional Care

"This book will be of considerable value to all those involved professionally and academically in long-term care issues of any age group." Education & Ageing

"This study presents an original - indeed pathbreaking - approach to the comparative study of social policy. It has considerable potential relevance for both policy and practice and will be invaluable for staff teaching social work courses." John Clarke

Prue Chamberlayne is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Health and Social Welfare, The Open University. Anette King is a Research Programme Officer at the East Kent Hospitals Trust.

Introduction; West Germany - the pull into the home; East Germany - the push out of the home; Britain - sitting on the doorstep; Biography and caring; Carers and the social world; Conclusion - caring as a political challenge.

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