Giving back or fighting back? A transatlantic, qualitative study exploring citizenship, social movement learning and mental health

  • Kirsten Maclean

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This transatlantic, qualitative study privileges how people with lived experience of mental health issues conceptualise the intersections between mental health, citizenship, and education. Using a Mad Studies lens and drawing from the bricolage tradition of emancipatory research, this study aims to understand what role social movement learning has in facilitating collective or political agency. A range of qualitative and collaborative methods were used, including oral history interviews and arts-based methods. Thematic analysis and NVivo software were used to analyse the qualitative material.;Findings suggest two very different types of social movement learning occurring as well as contrasting journeys towards collective, or political agency. In Scotland, there was evidence of a directive and intentional form of social movement learning. In the US, a new pedagogical space was identified, through contact with social movement activities and actors, resulting in a more situated form of learning through action or learning in the struggle. Themes of the relational, validation and love are identified as important for developing collective identity as well as collective and political agency. Findings also linked validation to theories of epistemic justice, suggesting that in Scotland validation came not just from the relational but from contact with counter hegemonic understandings of mental illness.;This thesis concludes by making recommendations at a research, pedagogical and policy level. These include moving towards genuine participation in "participatory" research, increased academic and institutional support for service user or survivor led research, the inclusion of Mad Studies curricula in mainstream mental health professional education and the significance of social movement or critical pedagogies in progressing a genuinely human rights paradigm in mental health.;This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by fusing theories of social movement learning and epistemic justice; demonstrating the key role of social movement learning and Mad Studies critical pedagogies in strengthening the agency and ability of people with experience of mental health issues to collectively enact and claim their citizenship or human rights.
Date of Award1 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorGillian MacIntyre (Supervisor) & Neil Quinn (Supervisor)

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