Reducing health inequalities through public health practice- the role of the lifeworld

Authors: Norton, E. and Hemingway, A.

Start date: 29 June 2017

Abstract Reducing health inequalities through public health practice– the role of the lifeworld This paper reflects work in progress as we apply humanisation theory and the lifeworld approach to public health practice. In particular we are focussing on the reduction of health inequalities and in the process of exploring how the politics of representation (or how people are portrayed) can lead to the creation of ‘otherness’ and ‘othering’ and ultimately dehumanising practice in public health. We that people can become ‘locked’ into a circle of disadvantage and inequality because ‘poverty knowledge’ and the politics of representation have an impact on practice through objectification and ‘othering’. We suggest the lifeworld approach as a constructive alternative to generating knowledge to underpin policy and practice; a type of knowledge based on uniqueness rather than homogenisation because through knowing about people’s senses of themselves and their experiences we can learn about the specific barriers preventing them from escaping their cycles of circumstance. By using a lifeworld approach to underpin policy and practice we are advocating learning through ‘not knowing’ in the first instance and listening then acting instead.

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