Conceptualising the Child Through an ‘Ethic of Care’: Lessons for Family Law
International Journal of Law in Context, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 375-396, 2005
Posted: 27 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2005
In this article the author critically analyses the two historical models for conceptualising the child: the protectionist model and the children’s rights model. She argues that both models are inappropriate ways in which to conceptualise the child. Protectionism is paternalistic, essentialises the child, and denies the child a voice. Equally problematic, the children’s rights model presumes the social desirability of the liberal individual, and emphasises rights over relationships, and universal principles over concrete situations. Given the flaws inherent in these models, the author proposes a third way in which to conceptualise the child based on a feminist ‘ethic of care’. Drawing on the work of proponents of an ethic of care, she considers how the ethic might conceptualise the child, and how it might translate into a family law context.
Keywords: family Law, best interests of the child doctrine, ethic of care, child custody law
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