In this article, we explore the socio-political chasm that divides recognition and rights. Our focus is the Australian policy context, but many of the social and cultural issues that we identify have transnational relevance. Our own experience leads us to focus on carers of people with a disability, particularly those who provide intensive and long-term care: these carers are typically women whose caring role has occupied them for 70 or more hours per week for at least 15 years, and who face the poorest health and well-being outcomes (Carers NSW, 2014). We argue that those groups that have successfully embraced a rights agenda, such as women and people with a disability, have done so by combining grass-roots activism with a groundswell of theory building by scholars from within these groups with lived experience. We argue that carer advocacy and academic discourse around caregiving must likewise forge a space for carers to narrate their own lived experiences of discrimination and social oppression if the lives of the next generation of carers are to be characterised by the full rights of citizenship and participation, as well as recognition.