Negotiating trust: exploring power, belief, truth and knowledge in health and care
What was the topic of this conference?
The QHRN organises biennial international conferences to allow emerging and experienced researchers from within and outside the UCL community to present, experiment with, and learn about qualitative theory, methods, and writing.
In 2021, we turned our attention to the notion of trust, which we understand broadly as a concept connecting ideas of power, belief, truth, relationships, and knowledge. Together these dynamics contribute to the shape of health landscapes, influencing the abilities of the public, services, practitioners and patients to engage in behaviours that determine health outcomes.
Our 5th Qualitative Health Research Network conference took place online on the 18th and 19th March 2021.
The conference programme can be downloaded from
Dr Flora Cornish gave a keynote at our conference:
- Trust in possibility. How to keep going after Grenfell.
Disasters destroy trust - in authorities' competence, in justice, even in the possibility of a better future. In a world facing multiple devastating catastrophes - the Covid-19 crisis, climate emergency, deaths on Europe's borders - compounded by political denialism and division, calls for 'optimism' and 'hope' ring hollow. This paper seeks to learn about trusting in possibility from the grassroots response after the Grenfell Tower fire, drawing on 3 years of knowledge exchange in North Kensington. While "Grenfell changes everything" was a claim voiced by many in authority, the day-to-day reality of grassroots struggles for achievable changes has been a story of set-backs, let-downs, delays, frustrations, and refusals, "a constant fight" against the intransigence of a discredited structure of authority. In that fight, community activists have achieved partial changes to building regulations, secured people's tenure in their homes, and created much loved, though precarious, community supports. But beyond landmark achievements, through that fight, and day to day, they also trust in, and make real the possibilities of relationships of humanity, solidarity, care and courage. Their example informs a theorisation of health-promoting change in hostile and repeatedly frustrating conditions, beyond the binaries of hope/despair, optimism/pessimism, and success/failure. In Donna Haraway's words, people who care for their community show us how to 'stay with the trouble', and instantiate 'still possible worlds', despite being told it is impossible.