Breaking silence: educating citizens for love, care and solidarity

Kathleen Lynch, Maureen Lyons, Sara Cantillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


An indifference to the affective domain and an allegiance to the education of the rational autonomous subject and public citizen are at the heart of formal education. The impact of Cartesian rationalism is intensifying with the glorification of performativity measured by league tables and rankings. The citizen carer and the care recipient citizen are only recognised in the educational arena when professionals are being trained to manage those in need of care. Education for informal care labour, solidarity work and love labour is generally not part of the formal educational trajectory. Because the scholarly understanding of work has been equated with economic self preservation and self-actualisation through interaction with nature, education is seen as preparation for this type of work. Education is indifferent to other-centred work arising from our interdependencies and dependencies as affective, relational beings. In particular it has ignored the centrality of nurturing for the preservation and self-actualisation of the human species. In this article the authors argue that sociologists need to engage with the extensive feminist scholarship on care if they are to challenge the deeply care-less view of the citizen that is implicitly accepted in new and older forms of liberal thinking. The rational economic actor model of the citizen is contrasted with the care-full view of the citizen and the implications of both for education are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • educational sociology
  • feminism
  • relationships
  • citizenship


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