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Title: An exploration of how mental health service users construct meaning from the Work Capability Assessment process, using Foucauldian Discourse Analysis
Author: Earl, Stacy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 8741
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2016
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Welfare reform has seen disabled people finding their eligibility for unconditional welfare benefits reassessed through the Work Capability Assessment. The welfare-to-work policy has seen those that are economically inactive and unemployed constructed as problematic groups who require intervention to become productive members of mainstream society. The Work Capability Assessment process has been criticised for not adequately assessing work capability in people with mental health difficulties and has been deemed discriminatory against mental health service users. There is a paucity of research in this area, particularly in relation to users of mental health services, and within the psychology discipline. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten users of mental health services who had participated in the Work Capability Assessment process. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis was used to explore how service user’s constructed the Work Capability Assessment process, and how they were constructed through their involvement in the process. Participants were constructed as “fraudulent versus genuine”, “workshy”, “an economic drain”, and “just a number”. Participants constructed the process as a “catch 22 situation”, “something you either pass or fail”, “an all or nothing process” (work versus non-work), “a political act” and a “threat”. The findings of the research are discussed in relation to implications for clinical practice, wider policy, and future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available