Can a Crisis Become an Opportunity? Gender and Care in Contemporary Ireland

  • Brid FeatherstoneEmail author
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 5)


The profound difficulties facing Irish society have given rise to a questioning of past policy choices and led progressives to call for a new radically different Ireland to emerge (see, e.g., Kirby 2010). This chapter concentrates on an aspect of contemporary debates that is relatively neglected: the “care deficit” that has been apparent for some time. As NESC (2005, p. 36) noted, when large numbers of women remained in the home, the family was arguably the single most important pillar of Ireland’s national system of social protection. In a large number of instances, the care of young children, older people, and other household members with special needs hinged around the full-time presence of a fit and capable household member, usually a woman. Relatively, residual roles were played by the state and organisations in civil society and an even lesser one by commercial bodies. However, the rise in women’s employment rates from the 1970s onwards began to weaken this pillar of caring, and, during the 1990s, the rates jumped further to open a significant deficit between the diminished capacity of families to provide care and the development of new caring capacity on the part of the state, not-for-profit bodies, and commercial bodies.


Lone Parent Irish Society Political Ethic Unpaid Care Celtic Tiger 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health & Social CareThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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