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Community Care: Some connections

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New Zealand’s Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) programmes had their beginnings in St. Albans, Christchurch, in the 1980’s. The model was very much a local community one. Local resident Margreet Stronks, who was the main instigator and driving force behind OSCAR, described care as being closer to the German form of care – solicitude, care for, care about, in this case, the children in St Albans.

Stronks also worked hard to ensure care for workers, so they were paid well and there was ongoing training and support.

German philosopher Martin Heidegger philosophizes deeply about authentic Care, or “Sorge”. Such authentic Sorge is care that is based on one’s own-most, self-chosen, and therefore, “authentic” possibilities.

Social and cultural theorist Scott Lash adapts this often individually framed concept of care to community contexts. He focuses on shared communal, inclusive participatory care, or what he refers to as “communal-being-in-the-world”.

Heidegger’s focus was on the authentic individual deciding on their own-most possibilities. The community or society was seen by him as inauthentic and conformist, representing a form of care where authenticity is lost.

Lash, however, develops Hubert Dreyfus’s interpretation of Heidegger to conceptualize a communal form of “we” that is participatory and not part of an engineered or manipulated consensus. Importantly, this form of community can be seen as authentic, in that it is based on inclusive participation, where all can participate together on the basis of the authentic choice of all concerned.

The OSCAR model that originated in St. Albans, like many forms of child and elder care in New Zealand, have tended to start from a local community, based on shared forms of care. Now that OSCAR programmes have expanded throughout New Zealand, with a national foundation and government interest and support, OSCAR has had to become more bureaucratically organized.

This trend towards bureaucracy in local community, both corporate and regulatory, makes recognizing, developing and sustaining human care a continual challenge.

The basic question for community is how to have forms of care which are authentic?
The challenge for the growing community care industry is how to support human care in bureaucratized contexts?

What do you think? Are there some good models where the balance is right? How do they achieve this balance?

What about OSCAR? Is it, like child and elder care, likely to become privatized and corporatized? Does it matter?

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