Recovery and Social Inequalities: The Use of Capabilities Approach and Intersectionality Analysis in Exploring the Social Conditions for Recovery: XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology: Facing an unequal world: Challenges for global sociology

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‘Recovery’ has become a dominant discursive feature in the UK mental health policies. Under the neo-liberal context, the mainstreamed recovery services tends to promote individualistic recovery strategies. Such policies and services fail to address the structural inequalities that give rise to distress and mental ill-health or place sufficient emphasis on the diversity of intersectional inequalities among service users that shape recovery journeys. This paper critically engages with the concepts of 'recovery', based on a case study of Chinese mental health service users in the UK which explores how structural factors, such as class, gender and ethnicity, contribute to their diverse recovery journeys. To shed light on the complex interplay of structure and agency in shaping recovery journeys, a synthesis of the Capabilities Approach (Sen, 1999, Nussbaum, 2001 and Hopper, 2007) and Intersectionality Analysis (Walby, 2007 and Anthias, 2006) was developed as an alternative framework. Repeated in-depth life history interviews were carried out with twenty two Chinese people having received a psychiatric diagnosis, recruited from three cities in the England. Findings showed that participants strove, sometimes cautiously, to retain and exercise agency to move from patienthood to personhood. Their journeys were shaped by social inequalities demonstrating that targeting social inequalities is essential for facilitating and nurturing meaningful recovery. Drawn on the findings in the case study, this paper will illustrate in what ways the medicalisation process enhances or hinders the (re)development of capabilities. It will also discuss about the use of the Capabilities Approach and Intersectionality Analysis in exploring the social conditions for meaningful recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2014

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