Accountability from Somewhere and for Someone: Relating with Care

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In contemporary care institutions, accountability procedures and devices are increasingly pervasive and considered crucial for monitoring quality. Such accountability practices are based on the idea that accountability and care belong in two separate domains. The distinction between accountability ‘from nowhere and for everyone’ and accountability ‘from somewhere and for someone’ problematises this implicit split. Taking seriously the observations of everyday caring and accounting by care professionals, who resist splitting care and accountability from the outset, demands a reconceptualisation of the relation between care and accountability as reciprocal and co-emerging. Both accountability and care are highly circumstantial, emerging, relational notions and it is not clear-cut who or what cares or accounts for what, whom, where and how. Paying due attention to the generative interweaving of accounting and caring, that is, to the narrative work of care professionals, affords the potential to turn universal abstract norms of what good care should be into meaningful care. Creatively reconnecting care experiences, observations, records and relations generates accountability with care. Care professionals do this by daring to prioritise speculatively what matters most in a specific situation without falling back on the reassurance of clear-cut norms of good care and by daring to admit that even while prioritising a certain course of action, they might not know its consequences. Such a speculative commitment and the inclusion of the researcher's experiences in trying to be accountable are crucial for studying accountability as a matter of care and as relatedness in the making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-435
JournalScience as Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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