The (in)visibility of service user representation: A question of authenticity?

The (in)visibility of service user representation: A question of authenticity?

Dr Simon ClarkeZoom

Service user involvement is both a goal and a value that institutions claim to support, including, in recent years, medical humanities programs. However, many people with ‘lived experience’ find a different reality in practice. Across disciplinary contexts, representational aims are often tacitly undermined by epistemic double binds taking different forms: in the psy-sciences, the competing claims that those with lived experience are either “too disabled to play a meaningful role” or, conversely, “not disabled enough”; in the humanities, they are either “insufficiently mad” in the disruptive ways implicitly desired or, conversely, “too mad” to participate in disciplinary practices that demand a certain, arguably class-bound, creative or intellectual ‘ability’. In this panel we argue that such dynamics can be illuminated in reference to the concept of ‘authenticity’ and its institutional performance (Butler, 1993). Following Spivak (1992), we agree that many strategies of delegitimization are based upon an essentialism that reinforces existing inequalities. However, following Voronka (2016) and Clarke & Wright (2020), we identify ‘tactics’ of engagement that address the concept of representation itself. We conclude by exploring whether representation is a viable goal and, if not, how do we think about the spoken and unspoken (visible and invisible) aims of ‘inclusion’?

The Open University, UK
Fri 12:00 - 13:30
Education, Inequalities
Curated session