‘Care’ is a source of critical tension in current social theory, and the policy and practice implications of that tension are evidenced in its current prominence on the political agenda of developed welfare states. This article critically appraises current developments in the theory, policy and practice of care, drawing on interdisciplinary developments in political theory, sociology and social policy. Developing feminist and disability-rights theories, it explores a critical synthesis of conflicting normative and theoretical positions regarding the giving and receiving of care, and of the ethics and justice of care. It examines case studies of current comparative policy developments across a range of different welfare regimes, including the marketization/commodification and de/re-familiaization of care, exploring ideological and normative trends in the design of contemporary policies. It discusses the impact of theory and policy on the practice of care, looking particularly at the issue of long-term care for disabled and older adults. Finally, the authors argue for the development of a citizenship-based approach to care that decouples it from individualistic and paternalistic paradigms that disempower those who give and receive care.