…And (epistemic) justice for all: A cautionary tale of knowledge inequality in participatory research

Andrew Fletcher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose
Significant funding has been made available in the UK for social, behavioural and design research that aims to improve health and wellbeing for older adults. The growing importance and use of participatory and co-creative approaches in this field not only reflects a general turn in social research but also seeks to redress power imbalances between researchers and researched. This paper aims to use Miranda Fricker’s concept of “epistemic injustice” as a lens to describe the author’s experience with one such project, and highlight the cautions and considerations that must be made when navigating, handling and amalgamating “other people’s knowledge”.

Design/methodology/approach
Personal and theoretical reflection. Primary data for this paper consists of first-hand insider observations on how different forms of knowledge were treated in an interdisciplinary, intersectoral participatory research context.

Findings
Some participatory studies are hampered by insufficient consideration for a range of ways of thinking, including between researchers and participants, younger and older adults, different academic disciplines or academia and industry. This can harm project integrity and outcomes, potentially eroding trust in academic research.

Originality/value
By reflecting on a recent participatory study in healthy ageing, this paper outlines a theoretical basis to increase the benefits of working with different stakeholders across health and care, design, business and academia. It concludes by suggesting ways that researchers might address epistemic injustice, and so recognise and properly value the range of knowledge types encountered in participatory research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date5 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024

Cite this