Recasting ‘harm’ in support: Misrecognition between people with intellectual disability and paid workers

Sally Robinson, Karen R. Fisher, Anne Graham, Heikki Ikäheimo, Kelley Johnson, Tova Rozengarten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Policy efforts addressing abuse of people with disability tend to focus on more extreme forms of violence, sometimes at the expense of attending to everyday indignities and insults experienced when receiving support. Recognition theory provides a lens for identifying actions and attitudes of misrecognition that can cause hurt, humiliation or degradation, and have a negative effect on identity formation. Honneth’s concept of misrecognition is used to analyse qualitative data from 42 pairs of young people with intellectual disability and support workers. Many of the casual interactions that signalled misrecognition highlight the everyday harms that people receiving or giving support are exposed to in their paired relationship. Systems must respond to the high likelihood of these risks of misrecognition. Supervision, training, reflective practice and support activities can expose the problems and demonstrate practices more likely to positively impact the identity formation and wellbeing for both people with disability and support workers. Points of interest Everyday harms are things that happen often in services which upset people, but which do not get treated as violence or abuse. They are things like having unkind jokes made about you, being ignored, or being disrespected. In our project, we called this misrecognition. We looked at when misrecognition happened between young people with disability and their paid support workers. A.. lot of the time, people did not intend to cause harm. The other person was still hurt by the things they did or said. We can improve the way that people with disability and support workers work together if people understand how their actions affect other people.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalDisability and Society
Early online date24 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2022


  • Abuse
  • NDIS
  • recognition theory
  • support work
  • violence
  • young people


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