Future studies, mental health and the question of citizenship

AuthorPhil Morgan,Tula Brannelly,Sarah Eales
Future studies, mental health and
the question of citizenship
Phil Morgan, Tula Brannelly and Sarah Eales
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of utilising future studies to explore citizenship
for people with mental health challenges.
Design/methodology/approach This paper critiques the discipline of future studies and considers it in
the context of the citizenship and mental health literature. It explores how future studies can be utilised to
promote marginalised voices, such as those of people with mental health challenges.
Findings Technology is leading to rapid change in society including what it means to be a citizen (Isin and
Nielsen, 2008; Isin and Ruppert, 2015). Whilst citizenship has been promoted within mental health for a long
time, change has been slow (Rowe and Davidson, 2016). In order to create inclusive opportunities for people
with mental health challenges, any focus on citizenship in mental health needs to not only address the present
time but to anticipate and influence future technological directions.
Originality/value This paper is original in bringing together mental health and the future impact on society
of new technologies. It stands to offer a new perspective to discussions on citizenship.
Keywords Futurology, Mental health, Citizenship, Future studies
Paper type Conceptual paper
Digital technologies are impacting on every sphere of life, including employment, leisure,
transport, relationships, health care and education. All are changing at a rapid pace (Chace,
2018; Harari, 2016). As digital technologies are changing everyday occurrences, they are
influencing what it means to be a citizen. New practices of citizenships are emerging including
digital citizenship (regular users of the internet who engages in politics and social movements via
information technology), consumer citizens (people who define their citizenship through their
purchasing choices), global citizens (people who define their citizenship through a sense of
shared humanity and roles and responsibilities that transcend the nation state) (Isin and Nielsen,
2008; Isin and Ruppert, 2015).
Future Studies include disciplines such as sociology, media, cultural, technology and business
studies, and make predictions on changes to society based on economics, climate,
demographics, political theory and developments in information technology (Potts, 2018).
Whilst predominantly used in business, planning and policy making, as an academic study there
are opportunities to adopt critical sociological perspectives (Potts, 2018; Bergman et al., 2014).
There is also a growing body of popular Future Studies literature that is exploring the likely
changes of society due to technological advances and how this will impact on citizens (Chace,
2018; Harari, 2016).
In terms of civil and human rights, people with mental health challenges continue to be
significantly excluded from participation in society and experience stigma and discrimination
(Slade et al., 2017). This results in social exclusions that perpetuate and sustain inequalities.
Recent enquiries into the causes of mental ill health have identified the role of structural
inequalities which has led to a renewed call to examine citizenship so that people with mental
Phil Morgan is based at the
Department of Recovery and
Social Inclusion, Dorset
HealthCare NHS Foundation
Trust, Poole, UK.
Tula Brannelly is based at the
Department of Health and
Social Sciences, Bournemouth
University, Bournemouth, UK.
Sarah Eales is based at the
Department of Nursing
Science, Bournemouth
University, Bournemouth, UK.
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-11-2019-0038 VOL. 24 NO. 1 2020, pp. 23-32, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308
PAG E 23

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