Theorizing therapeutic culture Past influences, future directions
Source TitleJournal of Sociology
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sWright, Katie
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWright, K. (2008). Theorizing therapeutic culture Past influences, future directions. JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY, 44 (4), pp.321-336. https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783308097124.
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
C1 - Refereed Journal Article
Analyses of the influence of psychology and the growth of counselling during the 20th century commonly point to the deleterious effects of a cultural shift from reticence and self-reliance to emotional expressiveness and help-seeking. Indeed, the ascendancy of therapeutic culture has been widely interpreted as fostering cultural decline and enabling new forms of social control. Drawing on less pessimistic assessments of cultural change and recent directions in social theory, this article argues for greater recognition of the ambivalent legacy of the therapeutic turn. Through a reinterpretation of the consequences of the diminution of traditional authority, the weakening of the division between public and private life, and the rise of the confessional, the article challenges dominant readings of decline and control. In doing so, it draws attention to how psychological knowledge and therapeutic understandings of the self have given legitimacy to, and furnished a language with which to articulate, experiences of suffering formerly confined to private life. In advancing a less pessimistic interpretation of cultural change, it considers two historic moments in Australia: the advent of telephone counselling in the 1960s and the Royal Commission on Human Relationships in the 1970s.
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