In defence of care : Gilligan's relevance for primary education

Adams, Paul (2015) In defence of care : Gilligan's relevance for primary education. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 23 (2). pp. 281-300. ISSN 1468-1366 (

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In the main, writing about care seems to contrast the ethics of justice with the ethics of care. Whilst the former deploys objectivity, the latter holds that individuals are connected. Problematically, contemporary primary education seemingly holds a-personal, justice conceptions as its basis and rationale. In turn, primary education, in parts, adopts justice orientations for the way in which it organises and controls. This paper sets out to identify the way in which care can be conceived of as an alternative to justice-based conceptions of morality, and hence its applicability to the educational sphere. It takes, as its starting point the contribution made by Carol Gilligan, and examines her work for the ways in which it counters justice mechanisms through its celebration of a different voice. However, a warning is sounded: the neoliberal line holds court in the drive to design education; to simply cite care as the foil to this is problematic. For in so doing lies the danger that care is simply ignored due to the paternalistic hold justice conceptions have. To this end I propose that care be seen as a partner for justice and neoliberalism and not a mere alternative.