British Sociological Association

Sociology of Mental Health Study Group symposium

What does sociology need to contribute towards or against the wellbeing agenda?

Monday, 10th June 2013, 11.30-4.30 pm

BSA Meeting Room, Imperial Wharf, London

 The purpose of this afternoon symposium is to provide a space for critical sociological discussion of the current UK government ‘wellbeing’ agenda and its implications.


11.30-12.30: Registrations and lunch

12.30-12.45: Introduction to the day

12.45-2.00. Session 1

Intersections in Innovation; mindfulness-based therapies as part of the well-being agenda

Kate Spiegelhalter, PhD Sociology student at University of Sussex, will present her research on mindfulness therapies and their part in the national well-being agenda and development of complementary therapies.

Reinserting the social and the holistic: moving beyond individuals and diagnosis to a sociology of (mental) wellbeing

Dr Cath Quinn, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry will speak on how the use of the concept of wellbeing can be used to facilitate research that moves beyond the Cartesian opposition of body and mind, which diagnostic categories often perpetuate, and beyond the individualised category of diagnosis to socially constructed experiences of (mental) wellbeing. These constructs will be discussed in relation to carrying out research on how mental wellness may be promoted within the ‘total institution’ of a prison wing.

2.00-2.20: BREAK

2.20-4.00pm: Session 2

Developing resilience in educational settings: Challenging policy discourses of ‘risk’ and ‘vulnerability’

Professor Kathryn Ecclestone, University of Sheffield will argue for the need to challenge  policy discourses of risk and vulnerability that parallel those of ‘resilience ‘ and to resist the incursion of governmental behavioural interventions that generate new forms of governance and subjectivity.

Governance and the excluded citizen; tensions among housing practitioners and the wider community

Allison Savory, Buckinghamshire New University, will discuss the impact of the new welfare reform on social housing communities in the mental health sector.  She will present research findings which indicate that universal credit will compound the already tense relations between housing staff and mental health professionals, and discuss likely effects for tenants, who reported feelings of exclusion and sadness.

To make an army of illness? The politics of well-being

Dr Helen Spandler, UClan, will question the current policy focus on well-being and suggest that “illness” has ethical and political value in resisting attacks on welfare and advancing a radical mental health agenda.

4.00-4.10: BREAK

4.10-4.30: Overview, general discussion and close.


The BSA meeting room, Suite 2, 2 Station Court, Imperial Wharf, Townmead Road, Fulham SW6 2PY. Please ring the bell upon arrival. A map and directions are available here.

Bookings: can be made online.

Registration will close at midnight on Sunday 2 June.

Cost: £20 for BSA members and £25 for non-members (includes lunch and refreshments).  A limited number of free places will be available for those who are unwaged (please e-mail Lydia at the address below).

Event organiser: Dr Lydia Lewis, Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education, University of Wolverhampton.

Enquiries to: Lydia Lewis or to this email.

BSA Mental Health Study Group web site  


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