A qualitative UK study exploring counterpublic engagement of marginalized women via a Women’s Health Network

Craddock, Emma (2022) A qualitative UK study exploring counterpublic engagement of marginalized women via a Women’s Health Network. Health Promotion International, 37 (4). ISSN 0957-4824

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Public engagement is at the forefront of health policy and research. The need for engagement with diverse groups and particularly marginalized groups who face increased health inequalities has been recognized. Yet, there is a lack of research that focuses on marginalized women. This article presents data from semi-structured interviews with members of a Women’s Health Network (WHN) in Bradford, one of the most deprived areas of England. WHN is a collective of women who aim to improve women and their families’ health, with a particular focus on seldom-heard voices. This article critically explores what realistic, representative counterpublic engagement looks like. It reveals the tension between the ideal of public engagement (direct participation) and what happens in practice. Challenges for direct participation of marginalized groups in formal structures require alternative solutions. It is argued that WHN provides an alternative model of counterpublic engagement by bridging the gap between ‘seldom-heard’ women and healthcare providers. WHN creates and sustains a discursive space between subaltern counterpublics and official public spheres, enabling two-way communication. Furthermore, this article problematizes the terms ‘seldom heard’ and ‘professionals’ for assuming homogeneity and masking diversity. It is argued that WHN’s bridging model of subaltern counterpublic engagement is successful at amplifying women’s voices and promoting women’s health because of the network’s diverse membership and reach. This diversity enables the authentic representation of varied communities and the discursive movement of issues relating to women’s health. WHN thus offers a transferable model of counterpublic engagement in the absence of direct participation.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daac124
25 August 2022Accepted
15 September 2022Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: women, public engagement, marginalized populations, community development, PPI
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-06 - allied health > CAH02-06-01 - health sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2022 11:21
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 03:00
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14026

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