The neoliberal approach to social and health
related policies in Ireland could be said to exacerbate health inequalities.
This approach to welfare and provision of care champions the role of the
individual, permitting the state to relinquish its distributive
responsibilities, all the while couching the ideology within the nomenclature
of consumer choice and individualism. A resultant schism has therefore been
formed between sections of society, amplifying the pre-existing inequalities
and reducing levels of social cohesion and social capital. The older person in
Ireland finds themselves at risk of becoming invisible within the modern social
order. Having worked and contributed to the tax revenue of the country for much
of their lives, having perhaps raised their family, all the while assuming a
functional visible social role, they are now the victims of a beauracratic and
managerial healthcare system that, rather than fairly distributing health
provisions to them, seeks instead to renege on a contract previously accepted
to exist between state and citizen.
The subsequent misrecognition of the needs of
these individuals results in injustice, humiliation, neglect and disrespect.
This paper will explore the concepts of redistribution and recognition as
approaches to health inequalities and social injustice, and will examine how
the politics of difference and the
politics of equality play out in the
context of Irish healthcare. This discussion will be framed within the
frameworks of health inequalities research and social justice.