Ethics of care in the 21st century

Section: Editorial


Núria Cuxart Ainaud


Comisión Deontológica Col·legi Oficial d’Infermeres i Infermersde Barcelona.

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Versión en Español


La ética del cuidado en el siglo XXI

There is a frame of reference for the professional activity in the healthcare setting: the ethics of care. Any initiative that encourages dialogue and discussion about the meaning of care in our society is an ethical challenge for nurses and all other healthcare professionals.

The Col·legi Oficial d’Infermeres i Infermers of Barcelona (COIB) committed some time ago to promote the implementation of a permanent forum for reflection about the ethics of care. Thus, in 2016, through the Deontological Committee of the Corporation, the aid by the Fundación Víctor Grifols and, particularly, the invaluable encouragement by Dr. Carmen Domínguez Alcón, a nurse and sociologist from the Universidad de Barcelona, a permanent nursing research seminar was set up under the name “Ethics and Values of Care”.

The design of this seminar includes different activities, in the form of lectures, where an expert with acknowledged international prestige presents his/her lines of work and research before professionals from different fields and an audience interested in the topics put forward. The seminar also includes workshops, before and/or after the lectures, for the analysis of professional practice, and the preparation of written articles that give continuity to the work shared during the seminar.

Dr. Joan Tronto, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science of the University of Minnesota, and researcher in studies on women and politic sciences at the Hunter College and Graduate School of the New York University, was invited to participate in the first seminar. She was the most adequate researcher to launch this permanent seminar on Ethics and Values of Care due to her acknowledged international prestige, her widely published articles on care and ethics of care, and her work devoted to highlight the way in which Western societies have created a democratic deficit in terms of care for persons.

The publication titled: “The Future of Care. Understanding the Ethics of Care and Nursing Practice” is presented, collecting the results of the activities conducted in this first seminar. This book includes the text of two lectures given by Dr. Joan Tronto: “Care as an antidote to Neoliberalism” and “Can care ethics be codified?”, as part of said project on Ethics and Values of Care. Based on the reflection on the ideas from both lectures, and particularly on the initial work conducted on the second lecture, “Can care ethics be codified?”, by the Work Team formed by expert nurses with the lecturer, there is a description on the way to look further into some topics which seem essential to address from the perspective suggested by the lectures, namely: how the neoliberal society, based on economic markets, is creating a democratic deficit in terms of care for persons, the relationship between the feminist ethics of care and nursing ethics, the professional language as an expression of identity, the importance of nursing visibility, the responsibility of professional practice, and the complexity of care.

It is worth highlighting that this book can be downloaded free of cost through the following links:

We believe that it is a major publication, and we hope that it will be very useful for all those Nursing professionals who want to improve their work day by day.

The best way to end up this editorial is with one of the ideas stated by Joan Tronto regarding her personal and acknowledged view on care: a social asset intrinsic to the person, and a moral duty of society and their political and social institutions. Ultimately, this is a set of sensitivities that should be developed by all people, and also by all institutions.