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Vulnerability and the Politics of CareTransdisciplinary Dialogues$
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Victoria Browne, Jason Danely, and Doerthe Rosenow

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266830

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266830.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Politics of Care: From Biomedical Transformation to Narrative Vulnerability

The Politics of Care: From Biomedical Transformation to Narrative Vulnerability

(p.151) 7 The Politics of Care: From Biomedical Transformation to Narrative Vulnerability
Vulnerability and the Politics of Care

Jackie Leach Scully

British Academy

The fact that illness creates vulnerability is taken for granted. In this chapter, however, I consider whether a biomedical intervention that ‘rescues’ a person from illness or disability necessarily reduces vulnerability. Biomedical intervention transforms a life story and so renders an ongoing identity narrative (temporarily) unusable; in doing so it generates forms of narrative vulnerability. This can be particularly damaging in situations when a new identity narrative is not readily available – if the intervention is very novel, for example. When biomedical interventions transform the lives of chronically ill or disabled people they alter identities as well as health status, and against the more tangible vulnerabilities of illness and impairment, narrative vulnerability is easily overlooked. Working from a personal example of dramatic and persisting narrative vulnerability following catastrophic organ failure and transplantation, I explore some of the consequences for patients and providers of care.

Keywords:   vulnerability, narrative vulnerability, transplantation, illness, disability, identity, identity narrative

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