Recasting ‘harm’ in support: Misrecognition between people with intellectual disability and paid workers
Policy efforts addressing abuse of people with disability tend to focus on more extreme forms of violence, sometimes at the expense of attending to everyday indignities and insults experienced when receiving support. Recognition theory provides a lens for identifying actions and attitudes of misrecognition that can cause hurt, humiliation or degradation, and have a negative effect on identity formation.
In our project, we used Honneth’s concept of misrecognition to analyse qualitative data from 42 pairs of young people with intellectual disability and support workers. Many of the casual interactions that signalled misrecognition highlighted the everyday harms that people receiving support are exposed to, along with their often under-supervised workers. Systems must respond to the high likelihood of these risks of misrecognition. Supervision, training, reflective practice and support activities can expose the problems and demonstrate practices more likely to positively impact the identity formation and wellbeing for both people with disability and support workers.
Sally Robinson is a Professor in Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University. Her work is focused on key social policy concerns for people with disability such as safety and abuse, wellbeing, participation and funding and organisation of community services. Most of the work in her research program has been co-produced with people with disability, and generated from their priorities. This has taken them into very interesting and important territory – relationships, violence, loneliness, belonging, quality of support – and also translated into new approaches to research and evaluation for government and NGOs.
Karen Fisher is a Professor at the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. Her research interests are the organisation of social services in Australia and China; disability and mental health policy; inclusive research and evaluation; and social policy process. Karen applies mixed methodology and adopts inclusive research methods with people with disability, families, policy officials and services providers.
Heikki Ikaheimo is a philosopher and Senior Lecturer at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture whose research areas include Hegel, German idealism, theories of recognition, intersubjectivity, subjectivity, personhood, the differences and similarities of the human life-form with other animal forms of life, social ontology, critical social philosophy, and social critique. He is best known through his work in the theory of recognition.
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