Integrated Care Systems as an Arena for the Emergence of New Forms of Epistemic Injustice

Andrew Fletcher*, Jeremy Clarke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Epistemic injustice has rapidly become a powerful tool for analysis of otherwise hidden social harms. Yet empirical research into how resistance to knowing and understanding can be generated and replicated in social programmes is limited. We have identified a range of subtle and not-so-subtle inflections of epistemic injustice as they play out in an intervention for people with chronic depression in receipt of disability benefits. This article describes the different ‘species’ of epistemic injustice observed and reveals how these are unintentionally produced at frontline, management, commissioning and policy levels. Most notably, there remains a privileging of clinical knowledge over other forms of knowledge, producing a ‘pathocentric epistemic complex’. This, combined with the failure of different agencies with competing ideologies to adequately understand each other, and a vicious policy context, added to the injustices already faced by people with mental health issues, generating multiple harms. This has important implications for a range of integrated care and welfare interventions – not least by drawing attention to their unintended potential for replicating epistemic injustice as an institutionalised complex. Careful evaluation and design of such programmes, applying the philosophical and epistemic resources illustrated here, can help mitigate this outcome. Further, by raising awareness of epistemic injustice among programme participants, we can generate epistemic structures that secure programme integrity locally, and promote better policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-737
Number of pages15
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number5
Early online date1 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

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