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Was it autoethnography? The classificatory, confessional and mad politics of lived experience in sociological research

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Theory and Health
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)123-137
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/02/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper will consider the history and politics of autoethnography in relation to the activist scholarship of Mad Studies. As part of ethnographic research about ‘recovery in/from serious mental health problems’ in the UK, I accessed an NHS community “arts for mental health” service as a service-user would do, situating this data in broader socio-political debates concerning the meaning, management and lived experience of madness and distress. This paper examines the framing of this research as autoethnographic and the relationship of personal and/or lived experience to the knowledge produced. I explore the classificatory, confessional and Mad politics of experience, identity and identification, and embodiment for research subjectivities. Employing autoethnographic means, I consider the ways in which I situate myself, and am situated by others, in relation to my research; evaluating the methodological implications of the crisis of representation in anthropology, and the post-structuralist criticism of identity politics. Through an engagement Mad Studies, I seek to move beyond these two established responses to the use of personal experience and autobiography in research.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41285-019-00090-4