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Title: Surviving, thriving and being outside : applying the capabilities approach to reconceptualise the social justice experiences of people with mental distress
Author: Brunner, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 0243
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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The empirical evidence associating people with mental distress and social injustice is unequivocal. This thesis offers a least reductive, structured qualitative exploration of how different social justice outcomes for people in this social group happen. To achieve this the study explores whether and how the capabilities approach can be applied to provide a normative means of explaining the social justice experiences of people with mental distress. It does this through conducting and analysing individual interviews with twenty-two people living in Glasgow who have recent in-patient experience of psychiatric hospital, sixteen participants being interviewed twice. The interviews are framed by combining concepts from the capabilities approach with relevant sociological literature, seeking to: understand the relationship between personal, social and structural factors affecting lived experiences; consider the character of social justice experienced and conceptualise this using concepts from the capabilities approach; take a critical realist approach to understanding how social justice experiences may be produced and reproduced; pursue these aims with regard to both values-based research principles from the survivor-influenced literature and participation principles from the capabilities approach. By critically interpreting empirical data using capabilities concepts and sociological concepts, the analysis is able to combine what had been two separate fields of study (Holmwood, 2013) and provide an original interpretation of how social injustice tends to be reproduced. The substantive findings explain how different social justice outcomes for people with mental distress are shaped by living with mental distress, experiencing the psychiatric system, and living in society. Although participants tend to have characteristics of ‘surviving’, or living with ongoing social injustice, a minority have characteristics of thriving. Some participants within both characteristic groups also experience ‘being outside’ dominant social norms. Methodologically the study demonstrates that concepts central to capabilities such as Conversion Factors and the domains approach can be operationalised to explain social justice outcomes for this social group, adding to and critiquing these concepts in the process. Theoretically, the thesis proposes a nascent critical capabilities model of mental distress, reinforcing the compatibility between the capabilities approach and critical realism, so providing a further contribution to the sociology of mental distress.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare