An interview with Helena Stensöta Olofsdotter, associate professor and senior lecturer. Her research focuses on gender, ethics, public policy and administration. “A public ethics of care: bringing ethics of care into public ethics research.”
Political Science Department, University of Göteborg, Sweden.
I have developed the concept Public Ethics of Care (PEC) that contributes both to ethics of care research and public ethics research. Public ethics research does not incorporate contemporary versions of ethics of care, but uses it mostly as is intended to bring ethics of care into research on public ethics. At the same time it is intended to emphasize care concerns on areas of government that reached beyond what we commonly consider as care relevant.
Ethics of care
“Ethics of care has been my main theme in research during several years. I understand ethics of care theory as a way to capture citizenship and human ontology as necessarily involved in care-responsibilities, a notion with political consequences.
I have developed a theoretical model for how patterns of care-responsibilities on structural level may affect policies, a notion that I examined empirically in my dissertation and pursues in the project “why are gender differences in the Swedish parliament diminishing?” ((Göteborgs universitet))
I used the ethics of care perspective already in my dissertation. ((Stensöta Olofsdotter, Helena. 2004. The empathetic state. Childcare and Law Enforcement Policy 1950 – 2000. [Den empatiska staten. Daghemspolitik och polispolitik 1950-2000]. Doctoral dissertation. Gothenburg Studies in Political Science No 80. Livrena (pp. 250). ))
“I argue that the concept of public ethics may serve as a vehicle for promoting care ethical concerns in practice. I develop the concept of public ethics of care, intended as a general public ethics, thereby expanding the scope of the ethics of care towards policy areas hitherto not considered care-oriented; such as law enforcement policy, prison management, as well as housing, infrastructure and environmental policies. I outline the argument theoretically and demonstrate how PEC may reshape concerns in practice.” ((Abstract Public ethics of care (2015a) ))
I build on the notions presented by Joan Tronto on what care is, and how it can be comprehended as a four staged process. I have further defined the public ethics of care as:
I further elaborate on how PEC may be useful for implementation of policies by sketching different types of relationships. The following relations are considered:
I do not want to single out any particular person in a field where so many talented and ambitious scholars do great work.