Empowerment and Agency through Social Prescribing: Perspectives of Community Navigators in Scotland and Ireland​

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Social determinants of health and wellbeing include intersecting inequalities of social exclusion, deprivation, and (geographical) isolation. With a drive in the UK public health agenda to move towards community-based solutions and preventative approaches to ill health, social prescribing has been thought to support individual and community resilience in this context.

The medicalisation critique posits that autonomy and capacity of individuals to manage their health is restricted by viewing social and societal problems through the scientific lens. This in particular affects disempowered groups, drawing attention away from the social inequalities that are at the root of reduced agency (Lupton, 1997). Critics of the medicalisation narrative have advocated for empowerment of patients through engaging in preventative social and physical measures, thus ‘taking control’ of their health.

mPower is an INTERREG VA funded cross-border initiative, addressing demands on health and social care in seven partnerships across Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. It provides its beneficiaries (aged 65 and over, with one or more long-term condition) with a social prescribing service, with co-produced personalised Wellbeing Plans, as well as eHealth interventions enabling self-management.

This paper presents initial findings from the mPower evaluation, drawing on qualitative interviews with Community Navigators in Scotland. Looking at processes of empowerment through narratives of front line staff connecting patients to local resources, this paper will focus on the themes of connectedness, community and agency. We will explore the role of mPower in beneficiaries’ engagement in practices of the self that enhance wellbeing, thus enabling increased control over their health.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference -
Duration: 24 Apr 201926 Apr 2019


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference


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