Understanding the urban through people with mental distress: case studies from Berlin
Patrick Bieler (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Zoé Codeluppi (University of Neuchâtel)
Paper short abstract:
I will present work in progress from my current PhD project on the everyday lives of people with mental distress in Berlin. By ethnographically examining people's dwelling in the urban environment I want to understand what socio-material relations enhance or reduce degrees of freedom.
Paper long abstract:
According to new epidemiological findings, urban upbringing and living cause stress in humans that can lead to the development of severe mental health problems (Lederbogen et al. 2011). At the same time, psychiatry has gone through a shift from patients in hospital care to clients receiving community based services. Ethnographic research has shown that the everyday lives of people with mental distress are heavily shaped by these care infrastructures and that these people are in a constant process of rendering the city habitable (Bister et al. 2016). Yet, people with mental distress are also especially vulnerable to urban atmospheres, the materiality of and people in places (Söderström 2017). I would like to present work in progress from my current research project on the everyday lives of people with mental distress in Berlin: Drawing from first walk-alongs and interviews with people with mental distress, I want to understand how they navigate the streets and what environments they thereby assemble. Through which socio-material practices is the urban made bearable and what socio-material relations are reducing degrees of freedom? This will be complemented by interviews with staff from the psychiatric care infrastructure as well as the public administration in order to understand how the possibilities of dwelling are structured in the linkages of care infrastructure, urban planning and health policy.
The everyday makeshifts of life at the urban margins