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How much care is enough? carer's guilt and Bergsonian time

Despite devoting their time to another person's needs, many carers paradoxically experience guilt during their caregiving tenure concerning whether they are providing enough care. When discussing the "enough" of anything, what is at stake is that thing's quantification. Given that there are seemingly no quantifiable units of care by which to measure the role, concerns regarding whether enough care is being provided often focus on what constitutes enough time as a carer. In exploring this aspect of the carer's experience, two key parameters emerge; (1) guilt, and, (2) quantified time. The guilt that carers report regarding whether they devote "enough time" to their caring responsibilities can be examined through Henri Bergson's philosophical conception of quantification. By integrating contemporary analyses of carers' guilt from the social sciences, most significantly via the sociology of Rebecca Olson, the relationship between quantified time and guilt becomes apparent. A quantified conception of time frames the assumption that spending more time on caregiving will reduce the amount of guilt felt by a carer. However, whilst care is structured according to quantified, clocked and calendared time, there are not comparable, quantifiable parameters for guilt. This means that suppositions of an inverse relationship between how much time one spends giving care, and how much guilt they will feel in terms of their caregiving, are problematic. These insights become relevant to health care policies via a coherence with calls to make the role of unpaid, caregiving, labour time more visible, and by explaining how understanding quantified time can help policies guide how caregivers negotiate guilt. 

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Journal article
Springer Nature
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Health Care Analysis
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