The concept of ‘vulnerability’ is becoming increasingly popular as a way of describing people who need or ‘deserve’ special care and attention. The term is applied to widening sections of the population, often to justify more intervention from the state. Such intervention may seem supportive in nature, but can also have controlling or paternalistic undertones. With social policies increasingly aimed at addressing the vulnerabilities of certain group or populations, what are the implications of this?
The University of York’s Kate Brown argues in her new book Vulnerability and Young People: Care and social control in policy and practice that we should pay more attention to how vulnerability is discussed, defined and addressed in society. In this salon Kate will discuss her research into lived experiences of vulnerability, bringing this together with academic and practical applications of the concept in order to explore the repercussions of a ‘vulnerability zeitgeist’ in UK policy and practice.
Through a focus on the voices and perspectives of ‘vulnerable’ young people and professionals who support them, she questions how far the rise of vulnerability serves the interests of the most disadvantaged citizens. Ultimately, who benefits from the ‘vulnerability zeitgeist’?