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Konsten att lyckas som par: Populärterapeutiska berättelser, individualisering och kön

Eldén, Sara LU (2009) In Lund Dissertation in Sociology 85.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen fokuserar den framväxande populärterapeutiska kulturen om och för heterosexuella par. Tre fallstudier har utförts; självhjälpsböcker för par, tv-program med relationsfokus samt diskussionsforum på Internet, kopplade till tv-programmen. Den populärterapeutiska kulturen analyseras och diskuteras i relation till teorier om vardagens psykologisering, samt teorier om individualiseringens effekter på par- och familjerelationer (senmodern sociologi), i kritisk dialog med feministisk forskning.

I avhandlingen argumenteras för nödvändigheten att kritiskt analysera individualiseringsprocessens effekter på parrelationer och kön. I den populärterapeutiska berättelsen konstrueras ett... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen fokuserar den framväxande populärterapeutiska kulturen om och för heterosexuella par. Tre fallstudier har utförts; självhjälpsböcker för par, tv-program med relationsfokus samt diskussionsforum på Internet, kopplade till tv-programmen. Den populärterapeutiska kulturen analyseras och diskuteras i relation till teorier om vardagens psykologisering, samt teorier om individualiseringens effekter på par- och familjerelationer (senmodern sociologi), i kritisk dialog med feministisk forskning.

I avhandlingen argumenteras för nödvändigheten att kritiskt analysera individualiseringsprocessens effekter på parrelationer och kön. I den populärterapeutiska berättelsen konstrueras ett autonomt ansvarstagande par; ett par som ses som autonom och ansvarigt för att utföra ”pararbete”, men som samtidigt är beroende av den populärterapeutiska expertisens definition av ideal om ”det goda paret” liksom av metoder och verktyg för att förverkliga idealet. Effekten av detta är att den populärterapeutiska berättelsen (på tvärs mot den senmoderna karaktäriseringen) reproducerar meningskonstituerande manus för det heterosexuella paret.

Konstruktionen av det autonoma ansvarstagande paret möjliggör också reproduktion av könade stereotyper liksom av könsojämlikhet. Svensk populärterapi talar oftast om paret i könsneutrala termer, men de generaliserade ”verktyg” som erbjuds de deltagande kvinnorna och männen i tv-programmen resulterar i praktiken i en reproduktion av traditionella könsroller: män ”handlar”, ”sätter gränser”, och uppmanas vända sig utåt mot offentligheten, medan kvinnor ska komma i kontakt med sina känslor, ”speglar” männen och uppmanas avstå från att vara ”kontrollerande”. Ojämlikheter relaterade till sociala strukturer och kulturella normer för kön, så som ojämlik omsorgs- och hushållsarbetsdelning, formuleras inte heller som ett ”parproblem” i diskursen utan blir, vad jag kallar, ett ”jämlikt problem”, formulerat i termer av individuella, personliga ”olikheter”.

Den populärterapeutiska berättelsen om paret utmanas dock av de (framförallt kvinnliga) skribenterna på webbforumet. Det könsneutrala talet om den heterosexuella parrelationen ifrågasätts här – implicit och explicit – i skribenternas kritiska diskussioner om programmen och, framförallt, i deras delande av egna berättelser. Populärterapeutisk kultur om och för par kan därmed – genom att ge offentlig legitimitet åt parproblem – indirekt vara en utmaning av inte bara dikotomin privat-offentligt utan även dikotomin personligt-politiskt. (Less)
Abstract
In this thesis, the expanding discourse of popular therapeutic culture on and for heterosexual couples is analysed. Three case studies have been carried out; self-help books for couples, TV programs with relationship-focus, and web discussion boards connected to the TV programs. The analysis is made in relation to sociological theories of individualization, therapeutic culture, feminist studies of couples and inequality, as well as inquiries of the private/public dichotomy.

The thesis argues for a need to critically engage with the effects of individualization on couple relationships and gender. A responsible autonomous couple is constructed in popular therapeutic narratives. This couple is simultaneously autonomous and... (More)
In this thesis, the expanding discourse of popular therapeutic culture on and for heterosexual couples is analysed. Three case studies have been carried out; self-help books for couples, TV programs with relationship-focus, and web discussion boards connected to the TV programs. The analysis is made in relation to sociological theories of individualization, therapeutic culture, feminist studies of couples and inequality, as well as inquiries of the private/public dichotomy.

The thesis argues for a need to critically engage with the effects of individualization on couple relationships and gender. A responsible autonomous couple is constructed in popular therapeutic narratives. This couple is simultaneously autonomous and responsible for doing “couple work”, but also dependent on the experts’ definition of ideals of “the good couple” as well as on guidelines for ways to get there. As a result, the popular therapeutic narrative (contrary to the argument of theories of late modernity) ends up reproducing meaning-constitutive scripts for the heterosexual couple.

In addition, the assumption of the responsible autonomous couple enables a reproduction of gendered stereotypes as well as gender inequality in the couple. Swedish popular therapy talks about the couple in gender-neutral terms, but e.g., the generalized “tools” offered to the participating women and men in the TV programs ends up reproducing traditional gender roles: men “take action”, “set limits”, and make decisions, and women “connect with their feelings”, “mirror” their men, and refrain from “controlling”. Furthermore, inequalities related to social structures and cultural norms of gender, such as unequal distribution of housework, cannot be framed as a “couple problem” in the discourse, but is understood in terms of “differences” related to “personality”.

Popular therapeutic narratives are, however, challenged by the (mainly women) writers on the web discussion board. Most importantly, gender-neutral characterization of heterosexual couple relationships is questioned in the sharing of individual experiences. Thus, the thesis argues that popular therapy on the couple holds an – indirect – potential challenge of, not just the private/public dichotomy, but also the dichotomy of the personal/political. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Johansson, Thomas, Centrum för Kulturstudier, Göteborgs universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
couple relationships, gender equality, gender inequality, feminism, household work, popular therapy, therapeutic culture, experts, individualization, late modernity, cultural narratives, collective narratives, private-public, media images, self-help books, TV programs, Internet
in
Lund Dissertation in Sociology
volume
85
pages
246 pages
publisher
Department of Sociology, Lund University
defense location
Kulturens auditorium. Lund
defense date
2009-04-17 13:15
ISSN
1102-4712
ISBN
91-7267-286-2
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
a8945a3f-d59b-4b81-a751-757204746eab (old id 1363687)
date added to LUP
2009-03-23 15:40:31
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:47
@phdthesis{a8945a3f-d59b-4b81-a751-757204746eab,
  abstract     = {In this thesis, the expanding discourse of popular therapeutic culture on and for heterosexual couples is analysed. Three case studies have been carried out; self-help books for couples, TV programs with relationship-focus, and web discussion boards connected to the TV programs. The analysis is made in relation to sociological theories of individualization, therapeutic culture, feminist studies of couples and inequality, as well as inquiries of the private/public dichotomy. <br/><br>
The thesis argues for a need to critically engage with the effects of individualization on couple relationships and gender. A responsible autonomous couple is constructed in popular therapeutic narratives. This couple is simultaneously autonomous and responsible for doing “couple work”, but also dependent on the experts’ definition of ideals of “the good couple” as well as on guidelines for ways to get there. As a result, the popular therapeutic narrative (contrary to the argument of theories of late modernity) ends up reproducing meaning-constitutive scripts for the heterosexual couple. <br/><br>
In addition, the assumption of the responsible autonomous couple enables a reproduction of gendered stereotypes as well as gender inequality in the couple. Swedish popular therapy talks about the couple in gender-neutral terms, but e.g., the generalized “tools” offered to the participating women and men in the TV programs ends up reproducing traditional gender roles: men “take action”, “set limits”, and make decisions, and women “connect with their feelings”, “mirror” their men, and refrain from “controlling”. Furthermore, inequalities related to social structures and cultural norms of gender, such as unequal distribution of housework, cannot be framed as a “couple problem” in the discourse, but is understood in terms of “differences” related to “personality”. <br/><br>
Popular therapeutic narratives are, however, challenged by the (mainly women) writers on the web discussion board. Most importantly, gender-neutral characterization of heterosexual couple relationships is questioned in the sharing of individual experiences. Thus, the thesis argues that popular therapy on the couple holds an – indirect – potential challenge of, not just the private/public dichotomy, but also the dichotomy of the personal/political.},
  author       = {Eldén, Sara},
  isbn         = {91-7267-286-2},
  issn         = {1102-4712},
  keyword      = {couple relationships,gender equality,gender inequality,feminism,household work,popular therapy,therapeutic culture,experts,individualization,late modernity,cultural narratives,collective narratives,private-public,media images,self-help books,TV programs,Internet},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {246},
  publisher    = {Department of Sociology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Dissertation in Sociology},
  title        = {Konsten att lyckas som par: Populärterapeutiska berättelser, individualisering och kön},
  volume       = {85},
  year         = {2009},
}