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The social dynamics of devaluation in an aged care context


Banks, S, The social dynamics of devaluation in an aged care context, Journal of Sociology, 54, (2) pp. 167-177. ISSN 1440-7833 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 the authors

DOI: doi:10.1177/1440783318766144


This article examines the way that aged care workers and clients are devalued. It is argued that they share a stigmatised and marginalised position, not experiencing recognition at individual, rights or societal levels. The research draws on a qualitative, ethnographic study of aged care and disability support, with Honneth’s recognition theory used to analyse the intersection of practice and meaning in this work. The study reveals that workers’ and clients’ presentations of a competent self are compromised by external signals of mistrust and devaluing, forms of misrecognition. These include low wages and status for workers, public and policy discourses that position them and their clients as mendicant or undeserving, and demeaning treatment from organisations. In turn, those participants who lacked a sense of themselves as uniquely valuable, as deserving of rights, and as contributing to the shared project of society, displayed practices and perspectives that were disabling of themselves and one another. Their interactions were characterised by distrust, resistance and mutual disabling. Boomageddon and silver tsunami scenarios are part of the problem; such discourses of misrecognition must be contested.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:aged care, clients, recognition theory, social construction, workers
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Aged health care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Banks, S (Ms Susan Banks)
ID Code:127284
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2018-07-20
Last Modified:2018-12-03

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