Vulnerability and the myth of autonomy

Cummins, ID ORCID: 2019, 'Vulnerability and the myth of autonomy' , in: The Routledge handbook of critical social work , Routledge, London.

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Access Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge handbook of critical social work on 18th January 2019, available online:


This chapter examines the notions of individualism that are such a key feature of neoliberalism. It outlines the main themes in M. Fineman’s argument and discusses notion of “the vulnerable subject”. The chapter argues that vulnerability is a constant and universal feature of the human condition. There has been a significant rise in the interest in and use of the term “vulnerability”. The use of the term “vulnerability” has its roots in the biological and life sciences. In the 1980s, it was a term that was rarely used. The modern political discourse and framework of human rights has its roots in the response to the atrocities of World War II. Fineman argues vulnerability is universal, constant and deeply rooted in the human condition. The chapter concludes by arguing that Fineman’s work can play a key role in the reinvigoration of societal institutions that focus on the wellbeing of citizens rather than the management of marginalised populations.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Webb, SA
Additional Information: Chapter originally titled "The myth of vulnerability"
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781351264402 (ebook); 9781138578432 (print)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: ID Cummins
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2020 08:50
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 04:59

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