This paper was prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, Massachusetts, August 29–September 1, 2002.
Political Practices of Care: Needs and Rights*
Version of Record online: 22 NOV 2004
Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 425–453, December 2004
How to Cite
WHITE, J. A. and TRONTO, J. C. (2004), Political Practices of Care: Needs and Rights. Ratio Juris, 17: 425–453. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9337.2004.00276.x
- Issue online: 22 NOV 2004
- Version of Record online: 22 NOV 2004
Abstract. In this paper the authors argue that the exploration of the nature of needs and rights should begin with the actually existing organization of care and of justice in society. The authors raise two key concerns with this organization: 1) the invisibility of care to some, and 2) the inaccessibility of rights to others. Recent work by care scholars has called attention to the ways the current organization of care work perpetuates the myth of self-sufficiency for some, while reducing others to mere dependents. Law and Society scholars have demonstrated the problems of uneven access to legal remedies within the current organization of the legal system. Addressing these concerns simultaneously reveals both the problems of the current organization of needs and rights as well as illuminating alternative possibilities. The authors argue, first, that a justice perspective, based on rights is inadequate because its presumed universality is belied by the reality of the inaccessibility of rights to many. Second, the authors argue that a care perspective, currently formulated upon the assumption that only some people have needs, is also flawed because its presumed particularity distorts the human experience and subsequent policies. Instead, the authors need to conceive of care in a public way that permits both rights and needs to be understood as applicable to all. The authors propose some initial thoughts about how to create such a public concept of care.