This thesis explores the emergence, construction and government of the contemporary spousal carer of the aged person as a politicised, ethical subject in Queensland, Australia using a Foucauldian perspective. Related to this, four broad research questions frame the investigation: What are the conditions of possibility which enabled the carer to come into being: What are the characteristics of carer discourse in Australia and, more specifically, in Queensland? How are carers governed by others in terms of their behaviour? How do carers govern themselves to produce the desired caring behaviours?
The Foucauldian method of genealogy is used to analyse documentary and interview data from two separate, yet intersecting areas of human conduct regarding carers. Although presented separately, these genealogies connect to each other to form a Foucauldian grid, an analytic space which details the government of the self by the self as it is influenced by broader modalities of government. The first genealogy examines the practices of government by various philanthropic, religious and political orders which have produced, deliberated upon, measured, controlled or reported carer conduct. The second genealogy investigates 'ethical practice' by focusing upon how carers govern their own behaviour and shape their own thoughts and feelings to become the sort of carer specified within the political discourse.
The philanthropic, religious and professional nursing codes of the early to middle part of the twentieth century have faded with modem carer policy, which has drawn upon knowledges and governance of the self to produce a morality of caring which is both authoritative and scientific. Carer discourse is characterised by practices and technologies of the self which provide a mechanism by which carers develop their 'caring self, a form of subjectivity which is constituted and experienced in the ways by which carers govern their thought and conduct. Carers are asked to work on themselves, to pay attention to their feelings and emotions, to develop the sort of moral conduct which is deemed necessary politically. This regulation and routinisation of the psyche using psychotherapeutic techniques provides an inner fabrication of the self which co-ordinates with the broader governmental objectives for the deinstitutionalisation of the aged.