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Contemporary social evils$
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Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424099

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.001.0001

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Unkind, risk averse and untrusting: if this is today’s society, can we change it?

Unkind, risk averse and untrusting: if this is today’s society, can we change it?

Chapter:
(p.114) (p.115) 9 Unkind, risk averse and untrusting: if this is today’s society, can we change it?
Source:
Contemporary social evils
Author(s):

Baroness Julia Neuberger

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.003.0009

This chapter discusses how gains in child protection and the protection of older people have also, paradoxically, contributed to a stifling of the impulse of kindness. It also shows that society has become less caring, especially for older people, and that the sense of mutual obligation that once existed in communities has ‘taken a battering’. It sees part of the problem as an increasingly ‘risk-averse’ culture among professionals in the caring services, and an obsessive fear of strangers that has encouraged a focus on personal rather than group welfare. Risk aversion has increased a natural human reluctance to get involved. Combined with an aversion to risk, there has been a growing failure of trust. There is a need to reinvent altruism, and take up the challenge which argues that the state cannot do everything for everybody.

Keywords:   child protection, older people, kindness, risk-averse, trust, altruism, strangers

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