Emotional interactions and an ethic of care: caring relations in families affected by HIV and AIDS
Evans, R. and Thomas, F. (2009) Emotional interactions and an ethic of care: caring relations in families affected by HIV and AIDS. Emotions, Space and Society, 2 (2). pp. 111-119. ISSN 1755-4586
To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2009.08.003
In the context of global processes of economic restructuring, the HIV and AIDS epidemic and socio-cultural constructions of care, many women and young people in low-income households have been drawn into caring roles within the family. Drawing on the literature on an ethics of care, emotional geographies and embodiment, this paper examines the emotional dynamics of the caring process in families affected by HIV and AIDS. Based on the perspectives of both ‘caregivers’ and ‘care-receivers’ from research undertaken in Namibia, Tanzania and the UK, we examine the everyday practices of care that women and young people are engaged in and explore how emotions are performed and managed in caring relationships. Our research suggests caregivers play a crucial role in providing emotional support and reassurance to people with HIV, which in turn often affects caregivers' emotional and physical wellbeing. Within environments where emotional expression is restricted and HIV is heavily stigmatised, caregivers and care-receivers seek to regulate their emotions in order to protect family members from the emotional impacts of a chronic, life-limiting illness. However, whilst caregiving and receiving may lead to close emotional connections and a high level of responsiveness, the intensity of intimate caring relationships, isolation and lack of access to adequate resources can cause tensions and contradictory feelings that may be difficult to manage. These conflicts can severely constrain carers' ability to provide the ‘good care’ that integrates the key ethical phases in Tronto's (1993) ideal of the caring process.