A1 Journal article – refereed
'We can't live without beliefs': Self and society in therapeutic engagements

List of Authors: Suvi Salmenniemi
Publisher: Sage Journals
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Sociological Review
Volume number: 65
Issue number: 4
eISSN: 1467-954X


Therapeutic technologies of happiness, emotional wellbeing and self-improvement are a highly

influential cultural phenomenon and a rapidly growing business worldwide; yet little is known of

the motivations for engaging with these technologies. This article addresses this gap by investigating

how therapeutic engagements are experienced and what participants hope to gain from them.

Therapeutic technologies are conceived as psychologically informed regimes of knowledge and

practice which aim to transform one’s relationship to oneself and shape the ways in which one

makes sense of and acts upon oneself and the social world. Drawing on a set of interviews with

consumers of therapeutic technologies in Russia, the article identifies three key motivations for

engaging with such technologies: searching for new blueprints for ethical work on the self after

a profound transformation of the ideological field; coming to terms with new mechanisms of

inequality, particularly in the field of labour; and mobilizing therapeutic technologies as a response

to inadequacies in the field of health. By unpacking these motivations and subjective experiences of

therapeutic engagements, the article seeks to shed light on the growing popularity of therapeutic

technologies under contemporary capitalism.

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Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 11:21