publishedDate01 November 2013
Date01 November 2013
(Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013, 374 pp., £30.00)
Demographic changes and a focus on the financial costs associated with
future intergenerational imbalances have put the issue of care high up the
political agenda in recent years. However, as Jonathan Herring points out at
the start of Caring and the Law, the provision and receipt of care are not new
phenomena that have suddenly occurred alongside the recognition that most
advanced economies have what is generally referred to as `an aging popula-
tion'. Rather, as the author rightly exclaims in his opening sentences:
`Everyone cares. Everyone is cared for.' As he then goes on to explain, the
issues surrounding care provision in both its formal and informal settings
have received very little attention from lawyers to date, making a compre-
hensive study of both its practical function and philosophical underpinnings
particularly salient and timely. This book attempts to respond to this gap in
the literature by throwing a spotlight on the law's relationship with care and
by providing a theoretical analysis of many of the practical dilemmas posed
by our interdependency and corresponding need to give and receive care.
The author is careful to point out at the start of the book and to reiterate
throughout that the focus is on `caring relationships' as an alternative to the
derivative terms `carer' and `cared for'. By situating his study thus, Herring
seeks to avoid organizing his analysis around the stereotypical conception of
a dependent relationship based on the notion of a passive recipient of care
who relies on the altruistic actions of another in order to function on a day-
to-day basis. Moreover, this approach enables the development of a range of
suitably targeted responses to the many and varied relationships that have at
their core an interdependence borne of the vulnerability that is part and
parcel of the human experience. This vulnerability sustains throughout each
individual's lifecycle regardless of age or mental or physical capacity but
generally requires a shifting allocation of resources, including the contribu-
tions of others in terms of emotional and physical support, depending on
changes to circumstance over time. For example, as a child grows up and
becomes more independent, her reliance on her primary carer(s) for support
in her day-to-day activities generally lessens as does the regularity (although
perhaps not the intensity) of emotional support required. At the other end of
the lifecycle, the individual need for physical and emotional assistance and
support may increase alongside, in some cases, a need for help with other
functions such as decision making. Of course this does not mean that an
individual's `in-between years' are spent living the carefree existence of a
completely autonomous being. Far from it ± even those whose existence may
appear to the outside world to be wholly self-contained are likely to rely on
others to provide support and assistance in dealing with life's challenges and/
or to fill the gaps created by non-caring activity. For example, one person's
participation in paid work may only be possible due to his reliance on a
partner to provide primary care for offspring and/or elders. Moreover, even
ß2013 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2013 Cardiff University Law School

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