A matter of power

Relationships between professionals and disabled service users

Authored by: Colin Cameron , Joanne Molloy-Graham , Maggie Cameron

The Routledge Handbook of Service User Involvement in Human Services Research and Education

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138360143
eBook ISBN: 9780429433306
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines ways in which power distorts relationships between professionals and service users. It specifically discusses relationships between professionals and disabled service users. It draws on observations made by disabled service user representatives interviewed by Shaping Our Lives and by Joanne Molloy-Graham and Maggie Cameron. The focus is mainly on relations between professionals and disabled people in contexts of service user involvement in the evaluation, planning and co-production of health, education and social care services, though more incidental interactions will also be considered. The author comes from a social model perspective but also uses symbolic interactionist (SI) and structural symbolic interactionist (SSI) perspectives too. Core concepts within symbolic interactionism include, for example, symbols (words, looks, gestures), interactions, attitudes, socialisation, role-taking, reference groups, roles and definitions of situations. Structural symbolic interactionism places emphasis on the impact of social structures on social interactions.

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