The trouble with “adults at risk”

I wrote a paper towards the end of my PhD that tries to unpick some of the assumptions implicit in current Scottish policy constructions of “adults at risk of harm”. I was trying to get at the nature of the problem that Scottish ASP policy considers itself to be addressing, by trying to pin down its understandings of where the problem comes from and who it might affect.

I approached this task by drawing a series of comparisons with Scottish child protection policy, on the one hand, and Scottish domestic abuse policy, on the other. I wasn’t trying to imply that these other policies are all about the same “kind” of problem, or that they should necessarily be similar in the responses they prescribe. But I did find them to be useful points of reference when trying to get a grip on different ideas about harm, abuse, dependency, vulnerability and power.

I should say as well that, because my starting point was some of the sociology I have written about before, I think it is inevitable that policies will contain assumptions. That is, all policies contain particular representations of the problem(s) they are setting out to address (15). This means I don’t think that uncovering assumptions is in itself a criticism of a given policy. However, it is a good basis for starting to discuss whether these assumptions are helpful ones are not.

If you have access to the journal Disability and Society, you can read my paper here:

If not, please follow this link: Here, you will either be able to download a version of the paper, or you’ll be able to request a copy (all requests approved though – it’s just a copyright thing).