How to care for each other and the environment

Feminist psychology proposes an ‘ethics of care’ as a way of thinking that would underpin much-needed changes needed towards more equitable, just and sustainable societies.  The notion of care is simple and complex.  Caring clearly underpins individual health and well-being and positive interpersonal relationships yet goes unrecognised and undervalued.  It is also associated with living sustainably.  However, it is challenging to define and little is known about exactly how it is done in social encounters.  Dr Ann Weatherall’s innovative research programme is examining caring in social interaction through naturalistic studies in three thematic areas:

1. Violence against girls and women

Violence and sexual abuse are the antithesis of caring. Gendered violence is now widely acknowledged as a significant societal problem that negatively impacts on health and well-being.

The questions motivating this line of research are how to better support women who experience domestic or intimate partner violence and how to prevent sexual abuse from happening in the first place.

The datasets being examined include:

Calls for help to a victim support service (n=396, recorded 2015-2016)
Calls about violence to the police (n=200, on-going)
Delivery of empowerment self-defence classes to girls and women (100+ hours of video recordings, 2020-2021)

2. Caring in clinical encounters

Caring and deep feelings of connection are central to the success of psychotherapy. Dr Weatherall is leading a funding bid in collaboration with CREST colleagues for a new project that will involve a video study of psychotheraputic interviews which will inform the development of a measure of caring that can be used to evaluate and improve therapeutic outcomes.

3. Sustainability initiatives

Improving levels of care in communities and for non-human species is crucial for supporting solutions to the current humanitarian and environmental crises facing society. The aim of this work is to find out how local initiatives support positive sociality, as well as responsible and sustainable behaviours. An important focus is showing how communities can be enriched through the production and distribution of good, locally produced food.

The video datasets being examined are:

Real bread market-stall interactions (around 3 hours, 2020)
Eco-shop interactions (around 2 hours, 2020-2021)
Growhampton from harvest to market (around 10 hours, 2021)
Human-cat fostercare interactions (around 2 hours, on going).