Social Capital and Care Ethics

In order to explain care ethics in a reciprocal framework I re-purposed Bourdieu’s concept of social capital. This drew on the ethnographic work that I did for my PhD and I published it in a book about Social Capital. The concepts behind this book – namely, social capital and a lifespan approach were ideas that I generated through my PhD and postdoctoral process.

We wrote the book as equal co-authors, each of us leading the writing of specific chapters, and then writing and re-writing into the chapters of the others. I ended up as third author. However, at the time it felt like a high trust model and I learned enormously by writing with such experienced authors. We managed to complete the book in less than two years. My co-authors came from the fields of sociology and anthropology.

I have also written about the concept of social capital with another co-author from my days working in the Injury Prevention Research Unit. This paper was one of the outcomes of an ACC funded postdoctoral research fellowship at the Injury Prevention Research Unit. My fellowship funded the qualitative arm of the Prospective Outcome of Injury Study.

This was a longitudinal study, following 2856 people subsequent to injury at 3, 12 and 24 months subsequent to injury. The qualitative sample was drawn from this quantitative sample, and also provided data at similar points. In this case, I examined the social capital available to people following an injury. The lack of opportunity to prepare for the injury meant this that was the perfect opportunity to examine what social capital resources were available to people at a particular moment in time, where social capital equated to care.


Butler, M. & Derrett, S. (2017) Social Capital and the Political Economy of Recovery from Injury. International Journal of Innovative Research in Medical Science, Volume 02, Issue 10, October, DOI:10.23958/ijirms/vol02-i10/14.

Barrett,P. Butler,M. & Hale, B. (2016) Ethical Issues in Family Care Today. Annual Review of Nursing Research, (Ed) Susanne Gibbons, Springer.

Barrett, P., Hale, B., Butler, M., (2013) Family care and social capital: Voices of Informal Carers. Springer