From necropolitics to a feminist ethics of care: human rights abuses and ageism in the COVID-19 pandemic

Gweithgaredd: Sgwrs neu gyflwyniadCyflwyniad llafar


As a feminist researcher, I start with a political commitment to use my personal experiences to highlight injustice and bring about change to address discourses, institutions and practices of discrimination. My experiences of being ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ to COVID-19, and the associated feelings of isolation, invisibility and discrimination, have provided a sense of affinity with other groups, like some older people, who may have had similar lived experiences. This positioning has informed this paper and the theoretical framing of the arguments.

In the United Kingdom (UK), the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted necropolitical decision-making and modes of exception that meant that some older people were left to die, as utilitarian medical philosophy would consider this a ‘societal need’. Techniques were employed, such as triage tools and legal orders, to deny the human rights of older people to life saving treatment, and spatial control of these populations in residential care homes or hospital wards enabled these necropolitical decisions. These abuses of the human rights of those most in need has been justified via economic and biological reductionist discourses, employed by neoliberal governments to justify cuts to public spending, including the health and social care system in the UK.

This paper starts with discussing the exceptional practices and necropolitical decision-making that led to intensifying the rationing of care to older people in the UK during the pandemic. It then goes on to propose a new way of conceptualising care, using feminist care ethics. Finally, in this paper, I aim to reframe the debate of ageing, health and social care towards radical alternative systems that resist neoliberal marketisation.

Cyfnod14 Medi 2023
Teitl y digwyddiadBSA Medical Sociology Conference
Math o ddigwyddiadCynhadledd
LleoliadBrightonDangos ar fap
Graddau amlygrwyddCenedlaethol