Caring for an elderly person often requires constant attention, physically challenging tasks, and emotional strain, all of which accumulate over periods and manifest as fatigue. Despite the prevalence of descriptions of fatigue in carer narratives, and the massive clinical literature on ‘carer burden’ and ‘exhaustion,’ the significance of fatigue as a component of care rather than a mere by-product has not been fully explored. Drawing on Levinas’ phenomenological theory of fatigue I argue that experiences of fatigue shape carer subjectivities as both vulnerable and enduring, qualities that are essential for inaugurating new ways of being toward and taking ethical responsibility for the cared-for. At the same time, fatigue can become tragic if not supported by social and cultural narratives that recognize it and give it value.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2017Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-08-21