Title

The unwitting (re)production of occupational ghettos: Reflections on embodiment, (mis)recognition, social (in)justice for persons with lived experience of mental illness

1

Location

Regency Room

Start Time

29-9-2016 8:30 AM

End Time

29-9-2016 10:00 AM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Critical social science is a particularly potent tool to expose injustice by asking us to consider how we embody the structuration of power in our everyday actions, unconsciously reproducing experiences of occupational alienation, marginalization, deprivation, and imbalance despite our professional values in client-centered practice. From this perspective, the concept of occupational justice suggests how health professionals could promote well-being and social inclusion through critical reflexivity, creating formal partnerships between service professionals and service users with the aim to “move beyond compliance with systems” and advocate for or work to create institutional change (Townsend and Marval, 2013, p. 26). Yet in our reflections on occupational justice and social inclusion, we take a slightly different tack by foregrounding anthropologist Michael Jackson’s (1998) argument that “… we need to move away from control, and control over resources and capital in order to understand the modus vivendi that is strived for in all contexts of human endeavor—imaginary or material—namely, a balance between what is given and what is chosen such that a person comes to experience the world as a subject and not solely as a contingent predicate” (p. 21).

In order to explore this existential sense of empowerment, we turn to the narrative and phenomenological resources used in, what Robbins’ (2013) characterized as, an anthropology of the good. Using these aesthetic theories of everyday ethical action (Mattingly, 2014) as well as philosophical –political theories on recognition and social justice (Fraser & Honneth, 2003), we will draw from a participatory research project with mental health service providers and persons with lived experience of mental illness, a screenplay on living with mental illness, and a series of journal entries and exchanges between us (a certified peer support worker and academic) to examine how persons enact “the good” in the most oppressive situations through everyday activities and, conversely, how persons can also reproduce what is “the unjust” through everyday habitual actions and assumptions. Emergent findings suggest how misrecognition of other can lead to, what we are calling, occupational ghettoization for persons with mental illness. The term, itself, raises questions about how we can systematically integrate temporality into our theories of occupational justice, which could adequately account for the subtle complexities of how conceptualizations of the good or the just, shifts and transforms with particular others in particular places over time.

References

Fraser, N., & Honneth, A. (2003). Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange. New York: Verso.

Jackson, M. (1998). Minima ethnographic: intersubjectivity and the anthropological project. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Mattingly, C. (2014). Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life. Oakland: University of California Press.

Robbins, J. (2013). Beyond the suffering subject: Toward an anthropology of the good. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 19, 447-462.

Townsend, E., & Marval, R. (2013). Can professionals actually enable occupational justice? Cadernos de Terapia Ocupacional da UFS, 21, 215-228.

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Sep 29th, 8:30 AM Sep 29th, 10:00 AM

The unwitting (re)production of occupational ghettos: Reflections on embodiment, (mis)recognition, social (in)justice for persons with lived experience of mental illness

Regency Room

Critical social science is a particularly potent tool to expose injustice by asking us to consider how we embody the structuration of power in our everyday actions, unconsciously reproducing experiences of occupational alienation, marginalization, deprivation, and imbalance despite our professional values in client-centered practice. From this perspective, the concept of occupational justice suggests how health professionals could promote well-being and social inclusion through critical reflexivity, creating formal partnerships between service professionals and service users with the aim to “move beyond compliance with systems” and advocate for or work to create institutional change (Townsend and Marval, 2013, p. 26). Yet in our reflections on occupational justice and social inclusion, we take a slightly different tack by foregrounding anthropologist Michael Jackson’s (1998) argument that “… we need to move away from control, and control over resources and capital in order to understand the modus vivendi that is strived for in all contexts of human endeavor—imaginary or material—namely, a balance between what is given and what is chosen such that a person comes to experience the world as a subject and not solely as a contingent predicate” (p. 21).

In order to explore this existential sense of empowerment, we turn to the narrative and phenomenological resources used in, what Robbins’ (2013) characterized as, an anthropology of the good. Using these aesthetic theories of everyday ethical action (Mattingly, 2014) as well as philosophical –political theories on recognition and social justice (Fraser & Honneth, 2003), we will draw from a participatory research project with mental health service providers and persons with lived experience of mental illness, a screenplay on living with mental illness, and a series of journal entries and exchanges between us (a certified peer support worker and academic) to examine how persons enact “the good” in the most oppressive situations through everyday activities and, conversely, how persons can also reproduce what is “the unjust” through everyday habitual actions and assumptions. Emergent findings suggest how misrecognition of other can lead to, what we are calling, occupational ghettoization for persons with mental illness. The term, itself, raises questions about how we can systematically integrate temporality into our theories of occupational justice, which could adequately account for the subtle complexities of how conceptualizations of the good or the just, shifts and transforms with particular others in particular places over time.