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"CO" – Co-productions, collaborations, contestations coming together in Copenhagen

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How policy and care go-on-together: Against the pursuit of common values Through a critical engagement with UK policy pursuing common values in health care I interrogate the relationship between policy and care. Policy can be seen as a historically, culturally and politically specific form of care and yet how policy relates to care, in diverse policy-related domains, is complex and problematic. In the UK in 2013 there was extensive media, public, professional and government attention to the failure of health care policy and practices to prevent patient suffering. One explanation has been a critique of lack of values in locations of care with a policy response to promote and co-ordinate values as shared alike across locations. In this way care is enacted as an entity that can be delineated, known and controlled by a universally applicable policy. Within Science and Technology Studies several recent ethnographic studies have suggested that care is a process achieved through practices of tinkering (Mol, 2008; Mol, Moser, Pols, 2010). Although focused on care, this work raises the question, are care and policy incompatible? I argue that this friction between common characteristics of policy as universal protocol or guidelines and care as situated tinkering is productive of reconfigurations of policy as well as care. Indeed, perhaps policy should be ‘cared for’ as a multiple entity that requires tinkering with in locations of practice. If caring is an effect of located assemblages of heterogeneous actors including practitioners, patients, diseases, bodies, technologies, it will also include guidelines and policies. So, what would ‘good policy’ look like? How might policy be re-conceptualised to promote sets of relations that foster caring-in-practices? How are such practices gathered under sets of rules or protocols? Or how, instead of rules and protocols might we think about and develop policy-care assemblages, with both fluid and structural aspects, continually emergent and mutating. The answers to these questions are empirical. I am making a plea for more studies of the ‘best possible fit’ policy-care assemblages in specific locations of practice in diverse policy-related domains. It is here that Helen Verran’s concept of ‘going-on-together’ is especially helpful. It draws attention to; tensions as productive; how commonalities and differences are enacted together in practices; to values as process; and that everyday practices enact realities. It reminds me that common values and universal policy are neither possible nor desirable.

Event (Conference)

Title"CO" – Co-productions, collaborations, contestations coming together in Copenhagen
LocationCopenhagen University
Degree of recognitionInternational event