Governmentality in health promotion: governing the self versus coercive measures

Bidragets oversatte titel: Governmentality i sundhedsfremme: selvstyring eller tvang

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


Issues of governance in health promotion during the last 3-4 decades has increasingly been seen as characterized by health interventions and campaigns aimed at influencing the citizens to exhibit a certain desired behavior, that is an orientation towards generating self-governing by the individuals. This tendency is associated with a rationale of neoliberalism with a focus on individual responsibility for health. Increasingly, however, health related interventions characterized by coercive measures and sanctions have been seen in cases, where generating self-governing apparently is not sufficient to ensure healthy behaviour. Such measures are used in the public as well as the private sector. In this paper we will give a number of examples of this development and a preliminary analysis of the social framework for its emergence.

The paper will present a theoretical discussion of the concept of governmentality with a focus on self-governing versus domination. Empirical data indicating the change towards increasing emphasis on coercive measures in health promotion interventions have been provided through literature search and interviews with relevant actors The literature search was conducted as a case oriented search in relevant media and available documents illustrating the tendency towards using coercive measures to promote healthy behaviour. This was followed up through semi-structured interviews with actors from public authorities, organizations and companies with experience regarding such cases. Some representatives from Danish unions can provide comprehensive material with documentation in this respect. The texts from literature and interviews were analysed by thematic coding supplemented by narrative analysis. The development is primarily illustrated with data from Denmark.

The empirical analysis gives evidence for a tendency towards use of coercive measures supplementing the policies aimed at self-governing in health promotion policies and interventions both in the public and the private sector.

The tensions and growing social contradictions around health policies set more narrow frames for the interventions undertaken. Thus new types of interventions will tend to supplement the policies of self-governing. There is, however, a need for further research to understand the significance of this development.
Bidragets oversatte titelGovernmentality i sundhedsfremme: selvstyring eller tvang
Publikationsdato20 jun. 2016
StatusUdgivet - 20 jun. 2016
Begivenhed8th Nordic Health Promotion Research Conference (NHPRC): 20 Years of Health Promotion Research in the Nordic Countries: health, wellbeing and physical activity - Mattilanniemi campus, in Agora building, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Varighed: 20 jun. 201622 jun. 2016
Konferencens nummer: 8


Konference8th Nordic Health Promotion Research Conference (NHPRC)
LokationMattilanniemi campus, in Agora building, University of Jyväskylä

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