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Citizenship and the politics of recognition

By Pamela Fisher


Health and wellbeing are now located within a policy framework that emphasises the empowerment of the individual ‘consumer’. Within this paradigm empowerment is writ large and wellbeing is seen as a ‘civic duty’. The role of the health and social care services has been identified as one of enabling service users to promote their own wellbeing. In this paper, it is argued that dominant narratives relating to ‘achievement’ and ‘normality’ may result in forms of ‘misrecognition’ that act to undermine the positive sense of self that is crucial for self-empowerment. It is suggested that while the parents of disabled babies often act reflexively to create empowering life narratives within the private sphere, this is not always facilitated by their encounters with health and social care organisations where neo-liberal ideas and biomedical narratives, based on a modernist view of identity as individual and existing prior to society, mean that parents and children are attributed ‘deficient’ identities in ways that undermine empowerment. With reference to ‘the politics of recognition’, it is argued that services that seek to empower must value diversity and alterity whilst respecting human dependency on intersubjective recognition

Topics: HT, HM
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