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Disciplining Freedom: Treatment Dilemmas and Subjectivity at a Detention Home for Young Men
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This ethnographic study explores treatment practices and staff-resident interaction at a detention home for young men, drawing on video recorded conversations and interviews. It investigates ideological dilemmas inherent in the institutional setting and how these produce complex subject positions to uptake, negotiate or refuse. Study I explores a core treatment dilemma: coercion vs. freedom, involving the dual institutional goal of coercing residents into norm abiding behavior and of producing individuals who behave "properly" out of their own free will. It focuses on staff members’ talk about token economy, illuminating rhetorical resources deployed to avoid the troubled subject position of a disciplinarian. Study II investigates disciplinary humor, illuminating how humor is used both to impose and disrupt social order. It shows how staff members and youths skillfully deploy humor in negotiating local hierarchies related to authority, generation, and age. Humor was also found to be a useful way of navigating ideological dilemmas. Study III explores behavior modification practices, focusing on how selfassessment practices can be conceptualized as responsibilization that emphasizes self-regulation. It documents the participants’ engagement in strategic deployment of specific subject position relations, “young boy”-caregiver rather than delinquent-disciplinarian. In brief, the thesis shows that subject positions are essentially co-constructed, and how positions related to age are highly relevant in this institutional setting. Paradoxical aspects of subject positions provide discursive resources that can be deployed to navigate ideological dilemmas such as that of coercion vs. freedom, but also to handle issues of authenticity.

Abstract [sv]

Denna etnografiska studie undersöker behandlingspraktiker och interaktion mellan personal och ungdomar på ett särskilt ungdomshem för unga män. Materialet består framförallt av videoinspelad interaktion och intervjuer. I studien utforskas ideologiska dilemman samt hur dessa producerar komplexa subjektspositioner att uppta, förhandla om eller neka. Studie I undersöker ett huvuddilemma: tvång vs. frihet, vilket involverar de dubbla institutionella målen att tvinga ungdomarna till önskvärt beteende och att producera individer som beter sig ”korrekt” av egen fri vilja. Fokus ligger på personalens tal om teckenekonomi och studien synliggör retoriska resurser som används för att undvika positionen ”disciplinär personal”. Studie II utforskar disciplinerande humor och synliggör hur humor används både för att skapa och omskapa den sociala ordningen. Studien visar hur personal och ungdomar skickligt använder humor i förhandlingar om lokala hierarkier relaterade till auktoritet, generation och ålder. Humor var också ett sätt att navigera ideologiska dilemman. Studie III undersöker beteendemodifieringspraktiker, med fokus på hur självutvärdering kan förstås som responsibilisering med fokus på själv-reglering. Studien dokumenterar deltagarnas strategiska användning av specifika subjektspositionsrelationer, ”liten pojke”-vårdare snarare än ungdomsbrottsling-disciplinär personal. Sammantaget visar avhandlingen att subjektspositioner i grunden är samkonstruerade och att positioner rörande ålder är ytterst relevanta i denna kontext. Paradoxala aspekter av subjektspositioner bidrar med diskursiva resurser vilka kan användas för att hantera ideologiska dilemman och för att hantera frågor rörande autenticitet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 138 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 617Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 184
Keyword [en]
Discipline, self-government, subjectivity, subject positioning, forced treatment, youth, normality, morality, humor, ideological dilemmas, resistance
Keyword [sv]
Disciplin, självstyrning, subjektivitet, subjektspositionering, tvångsvård, ungdom, normalitet, moral, humor, ideologiska dilemman, motstånd
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106936DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-106936ISBN: 978-91-7519-344-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-106936DiVA: diva2:720004
Public defence
2014-06-03, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-27 Created: 2014-05-27 Last updated: 2014-06-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. From punishmentto rewards?: Treatment dilemmas at a youth detention home
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From punishmentto rewards?: Treatment dilemmas at a youth detention home
2014 (English)In: Punishment & Society, ISSN 1462-4745, E-ISSN 1741-3095, Vol. 16, no 5, 542-559 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present article analyses staff members’ discourses on the treatment method token economy, as it is implemented at a detention home for young men. The study draws on interviews with eight staff members and on participant observations at the detention home. Using discursive psychology, the analysis centers on the staff members’ own constructions of token economy as well as paradoxes and dilemmas that appear in their talk. Two paradoxes were found: (1) paradox of transparency and interpretation; token economy is objective and transparent, but requires interpretative work over time; and (2) paradox of rewards and punishments; tokens are rewards, but they can be ‘zeroed’ or withdrawn in order to limit undesirable behavior. Further, the analysis showed that both paradoxes invoke a principal ideological dilemma of control – freedom, which staff members attempt to resolve by positioning the young men as responsible for their own actions and themselves as subordinate parties in the outcome of ‘objective’ token economy practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2014
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106934 (URN)10.1177/1462474514548788 (DOI)000346025000003 ()
Available from: 2014-05-27 Created: 2014-05-27 Last updated: 2017-12-05
2. Teasing, laughing and disciplinary humor: Staff-youth interaction in detention home treatment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teasing, laughing and disciplinary humor: Staff-youth interaction in detention home treatment
2013 (English)In: Discourse Studies, ISSN 1461-4456, E-ISSN 1461-7080, Vol. 15, no 2, 167-183 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores how disciplinary humor is deployed to shape and reshape social order in inter-generational encounters. Data are drawn from an ethnographic study of staff–resident encounters at a treatment home for boys (including about 30 hours of video recordings), focusing on sequential patterns in the local design of jokes and teasing, analyzing language and multimodal interaction in detail. It was found that staff and boys recurrently laughed together and teased each other by invoking local hierarchical positions such as child–adult. The intrinsic ambiguity of humor and teasing allowed staff members to engage in temporary breaches of social order, while simultaneously enforcing local rules of conduct. Similarly, the boys would joke with the staff, exaggerating or transgressing institutional and generational divides. But ultimately, the joking could also be seen to remind the participants of the very hierarchies that separate staff from residents and men from boys, or adults from children. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013
Keyword
Detention homes, disciplinary humor, discipline, laughter, social order, teasing, youth
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-90251 (URN)10.1177/1461445612471469 (DOI)000329071000003 ()
Available from: 2013-03-22 Created: 2013-03-22 Last updated: 2017-12-06
3. Responsibilization and Discipline: Subject Positioning at a Youth Detention Home
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responsibilization and Discipline: Subject Positioning at a Youth Detention Home
2015 (English)In: Journal of contemporary ethnography, ISSN 0891-2416, E-ISSN 1552-5414, Vol. 44, no 3, 251-279 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Responsibilization has been seen as a major technique for society’s governing of troublesome youth, yet few previous studies have investigated responsibilization in practice. This article explores a behavior modification program at a youth detention home, specifically how involved self-assessment practices can be conceptualized as a responsibilization strategy (aimed at producing free and self-governing subjects). The study documents and explicates this complex discursive setting, where responsibilization practices are combined with rigorous control. Drawing on video-ethnographic methods, the analyses explore how responsibilization is attempted and resisted in interaction. Institutional rules and manuals were used by residents both to enact resistance and to position themselves as responsibilized, in which self-assessment practices make out a kind of technology of the self (Foucault). Further, the study concludes that both staff and residents at times strategically positioned residents as children, something that ultimately could be conceptualized as both parties jointly enacting resistance in response to the dilemmatic discursive setting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015
Keyword
Responsibilization, discipline, technologies of the self, subject positions, resistance, self-assessment, video ethnography, self-governing, forced treatment, rehabilitation, youth delinquents
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106935 (URN)10.1177/0891241613520455 (DOI)000353996200001 ()
Available from: 2014-05-27 Created: 2014-05-27 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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