‘You’d think they’d know’: social epistemology and informal carers of mental health service users
This paper considers the experience of informal carers for people with mental health problems from the point of view of social epistemology, where human knowledge is seen as a social achievement and people’s social position informs the kinds of knowledge they accumulate and deploy. Based on interviews with 31 carers for people with mental health problems, three areas of localised, specified epistemological activity were identified. First, the management of knowledge involved in shaping the situation to gain professionals’ recognition. Relatedly, the second theme concerned the participants’ construction of what it was that the professionals knew but which was felt to be withheld from carers. Finally, there were aspects of being a carer, such as dealing with the emotional friction in the caring relationship which either ‘nobody tells you about’ or which ‘you can’t tell anyone’. Examining these experiences through the lens of social epistemology highlights the interactive and personal work that carer participants did to create, shape and manage both knowledge itself and their relationships with health professionals and the cared-for person.
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Citation : Brown, B. (2021) ‘You’d think they’d know’: social epistemology and informal carers of mental health service users. Social Theory & Health
ISSN : 1477-822X
Research Institute : Mary Seacole Research Centre
Peer Reviewed : Yes