Alliances and communicative action: one possibility for reframing theory and praxis.
Distress or disability? Proceedings of a symposium held at Lancaster University.
Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster, pp. 71-75.
The papers by Plumb, Beresford and colleagues, Thomas, and Spandler and Calton which were a point of departure for the symposium are replete with both the complexity of competing ideas for framing the theory and politics of mental health survivor identity in a context of wider ‘disability’ struggles and the sense that activism for change is paramount. Different theories or means of making sense of the social position of mental health survivors have the potential to underpin movement activism. Questions arise over the extent to which different understandings, and the means by which they are arrived at, might foster solidarity or division with potential allies. This paper will not directly seek to develop critique of the merits or otherwise of social models of disability for the mental health context. Rather, it will explore understandings of ways by which individuals and groups might take part in discussion and debate to arrive at more agreeable theories or politics of mental health. A critical look at Habermas’s (1986, 1987) theory of communicative action will be developed and its relevance for this context discussed. The idea of the university as an interesting social space for deliberations on movement politics and theory will be highlighted, bringing together movement activists and critically engaged academics.