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The institutionalisation of peer support in France: development of a social role and roll out of public policies

Abstract : tIn France, the practice of peer support is currently developing andbecoming institutionalised in health (particularly mental health),social and medico-social sectors. Despite significant shared values,a common background and a universal acceptance of experientialknowledge as the basis of their expertise, there is a diversifi-cation in practices. In a context where public health and socialpolicies encourage the development of the social role of peer sup-porter and where funding is available for a number of salariedposts, some practitioners opt for a voluntary or informal sys-tem. This article aims to explore the varied ways in which therole has developed through an analysis of its institutionalisa-tion process. To do this, data from two surveys will be analysed:one based on peer counsellors who set up an association underthe law of 1901 and the other on peer support workers from“Housing First”, an experimental public policy intervention pro-gramme. Two different processes of institutionalisation of thepeer-support role emerge from the analysis: one which prioritises the development of a social role and the other the roll-out of publicpolicy. Neither is yet sufficiently successful to guarantee the sus-tainability of the practices, owing to a lack of legitimation process orshortcomings in reciprocal typification. This situation has delayedthe professionalisation of the peer-support role. It also raises twoquestions: that of the links between experiential knowledge andprofessional knowledge and that of the effects of a meeting of peersupporters who were hitherto isolated in their respective fields(health, mental health, disability, exclusion, addiction, etc.) andwithin their causes.
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Eve Gardien, Christian Laval. The institutionalisation of peer support in France: development of a social role and roll out of public policies. Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Revue européenne de recherche sur le handicap, Elsevier Masson, 2018, pp.69-82. ⟨hal-02546895⟩

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