Normalization and Outsiderhood: Feminist Readings of a Neoliberal Welfare State

Published on Feb 16, 2018
Siv Fahlgren6
Estimated H-index: 6
Anders Johansson3
Estimated H-index: 3
+ 6 AuthorsEva Söderberg3
Estimated H-index: 3
This volume presents an illuminating analysis of the ways in which normalization processes and practices operate in a welfare state in an age of neoliberalism. This informative book problematize the meaning of the phrase ‘normalization processes and practices’, that for an Anglophone audience may smacks of functionalism. The historical context of the adoption of normalization processes and practices in Sweden in the post-World War II era was, in the first instance, an expression of the inclusivity designed to decrease inequalities and to achieve social justice. However all the contributors to this volume, show very clearly how notions of normalcy, of normalization, in a neoliberal time operate not only to create an integrating and equalizing context but also, and much more critically, how these processes and practices serve to exclude certain groups of people, and produce a structural inequality that in recent years has been discussed under the term of ‘utanforskap’ or outsiderhood. Critiquing these interventions, the contributors to this volume show how diverse groups of people - immigrants, families considered ‘at risk’ by social services, pregnant women, young girls – are variously the objects of context-specific normalization processes and practices that make any resistance to such interventions difficult, if not impossible. What people ‘normally do’, cloaks that ‘normal doing’ into a fog of invisibilization that suffocates any form of protest. Normalization thus takes on specific forms of repression in particular circumstances, for instance through the ethnocentric imposition of norms of behaviour on migrants where that ethnocentricity is neither made evident nor acknowledged. This system of normalization also operates in schools, resulting in the reproduction of inequalities and discrimination from an early age. In such normalization processes ‘the normal’ or ‘the usual’ becomes a means for re-interpreting structural inequalities in terms of individual choice, and for displacing the responsibilities for change onto those positioned as outsiders. Worryingly, the individual chapters highlight how the operations of normalizing processes work to obscure their functioning, thus making any critique of both the underlying assumptions and their operationalization almost impossible.
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Cited By7
#1Mia Liinason (University of Gothenburg)H-Index: 4
AbstractTracing historical as well as current understandings that contribute to shape discourses of sexual rights, this article aims to show how particular understandings of sexuality interact in the discursive production of Sweden as a modern, rational and liberal nation. Inspired by recent developments in queer theory, I engage in a broader critique of how understandings of sexuality intersect with notions of gender, class, “race”/ethnicity and national identity. With departure in three histor...
#1Marcus LauriH-Index: 1
For many years, Sweden has had a reputation for having a comprehensive and women friendly welfare state. However, as in many other European countries during the past few decades, the organization a ...
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#1Siv Fahlgren (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 6
#2Katarina Giritli-Nygren (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 1
Last. Angelika Sjöstedt Landén (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 2
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Synopsis The aim of this paper is to raise and explore some of the challenges we as gender scholars have experienced in Sweden today in what could be conceptualized as ‘overed’ academic landscapes. Our argument is framed by Sara Ahmed's (2012) statement that the very idea that we are ‘over race’ is how racism is reproduced where it also has to be emphasized that the notion of being ‘over race’ needs to be understood as intertwined with being over gender. With autobiographical methods, we take le...
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#1Katarina Giritli Nygren (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 9
#2Siv Fahlgren (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 6
Last. Anders Johansson (Mid Sweden University)H-Index: 3
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The purpose of this article is to explore through a reading of an official Swedish policy document what questions and challenges such a document poses for feminist theory by the way the ‘normal’ is (re)assembled in accordance with what others have called the risk politics of advanced liberalism. The intensified focus on risk in neoliberalism has seen responsibility move from the state to individuals, and old divisions between society and market as well as between civil society and state are bein...
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This article presents a project that focuses on the multiple ways recently arrived migrant women position themselves, and are positioned, in relation to an urban community in a medium-sized town in central Sweden. The research draws on theories of place and social relationships in order to analyse how accessibility of place is structured and explores the tensions in the production of places. Special attention is paid to variations in narratives collected from participants about living in the tow...
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#2Siv FahlgrenH-Index: 6
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#1Lena Sawyer (University of Gothenburg)H-Index: 1
This article focuses on normalization processes within a Swedish family assessment home. It discusses how normality is constructed by personnel working at Family House, a fictive name for an assessment home of parental care. The article focuses on the ways in which meanings of race/ethnicity, class, and gender are an implicit part of the normativity constructed by personnel in these institutional settings and are used to position themselves as different from the families who are there to be eval...
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