This paper uses the findings of a critical ethnography studying the interactions of adult colleagues (Korth, 1998) to propose a critical approach to care theory and research. The argument proceeds from Jaggar's (1995) critique of the scholarship on care. Her criticism voices concerns regarding the lack of attention to the justificatory potential of care research/theory and the over-dependence on particularities. This paper provides one set of responses capable of addressing these concerns and of reformulating the concerns into a more complex conceptualization of care. The resulting analysis implies a theory of care as a pragmatic-communicative construct, one that is more precise, but compatible with the interpersonal rationality to which Noddings (1991) attributes caring. Care emerges as a communicative act with a complex but definitive horizon structure. Care did not reconstruct from on-going interactions as a simple intention, nor a feeling, nor anything extra-rational or non-rational. This approach to understanding caring locates Jaggars concerns within the interpretive life of interactants. The papers specific contributions include exemplifying a refined analysis of care-in-action, articulating a meta-theory useful for the theory and study of care, introducing a typology of caring acts, demonstrating the critical potential of care research, and illustrating the connection between critique and justification.


Care, Jaggar, Noddings, Critical Ethnography, Justification, and Critique

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