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Pillars of support for wellbeing in the community: the role of the public sector

Kagan, Carolyn (2007) Pillars of support for wellbeing in the community: the role of the public sector. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

In this discussion I am concerned with the experiences of those living in areas of multiple deprivation in England, and what explorations of wellbeing might imply for the role of public services. I will draw attention to some of the paradoxes in linking wellbeing and participation for those living in areas of multiple deprivation. I will use the stress and burnout metaphor to describe some of the experiences of people who live in, and are active in areas of multiple deprivation in England. I will discuss some of the ways in which ‘participation’ enhances wellbeing but also some of the ways it undermines and threatens wellbeing. In particular I will examine the role that public sector workers, often at the point of engagement with ‘participating’ local people, play in enhancing or undermining wellbeing. I will argue that in the English context, with public and welfare agencies controlling and restricting people’s lives, it is the public sector that is placed to support wellbeing. It is also placed to jeopardise it. Instead of constantly calling for capacity building and the development of personal responsibility for wellbeing by those living in areas of deprivation, we would do well to attend to the capacity building for responsibility for wellbeing of public sector workers.

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