Upcycling Recovery: Potential alliances of recovery, inequality and Mad Studies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The notion of recovery was originally posited as a liberatory discourse that foregrounds service-users’ experiential knowledge and asserts their rights to self-determination. It becomes a frequent discursive feature in mental health policies in Anglophone countries and is perceived as a welcomed concept in other places. However, its implementation under neoliberalism has been criticised for individualising and medicalising distress. Some service-user groups even called for abandoning the concept as it becomes a disciplinary force that works against users’ rights in countries such as the UK. This chapter starts with a review of the debate and explains why reclaiming recovery is important, rather than jettisoning it. It then draws on a research project on Chinese communities in the UK to explain how this can be achieved through a shift from seeing recovery as a project of individuals to a project of communities. This entails identifying the multi-level inequalities people experience and challenge them through cross-sectional movements within and beyond the communities. The chapter proposes the use of Göran Therborn’s (2013) conceptualisation of vital inequality, existential inequality and resource inequality for envisioning possible alliances of recovery, inequality and mad studies/movements.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Mad Studies
EditorsPeter Beresford, Jasna Russo
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780429465444
ISBN (Print)9781138611108, 9781032024226
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2021

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