Från klass till kompetens - en diskursanalys av konstruktionen av psykisk ohälsa bland unga

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Socialhögskolan

Sammanfattning: Title: From class to competence – a discourse analysis of the construction of mental illness among youths Supervisor: Ulrika Levander Assessor: Torbjörn Hjort The aim of this study was to examine how mental illness among youths has been constructed as a social problem in Sweden. The empirical material was based upon twelve official documents published between 1990-1995 and 2007-2012 by state and political authorities, such as The National Board of Health and Welfare, Parliamentary committees, the Borough Council, the Institute of Public Health, and the Swedish National Board of Youth Affairs. The theoretical approach departed from a social constructionism framework, where discourse theory, critical discourse analysis, and postmodern concepts of government of conduct and gender were used. The study showed that mental illness as a social problem among youths has been constructed differently over time, governed by distinct discourses with separate ideological implications. During 1990-1995 the construction of mental illness was bound by a discourse of the “folkhem”. In this discourse health was framed as a concern of the state, and mental illness was constructed as a result of social class. The lower the class, the more likely the youth was to be positioned as suffering from mental illness. In this time period mental illness was described as a male and antisocial problem. Further, it was framed as a general threat to society in case more neoliberal politics were to be implemented in the welfare state. Hence, in the discourse of the “folkhem” the construction of mental illness among youths can be described as a way of governing conduct through social justice. During 2007-2012 the problem of mental illness was described through a neoliberal discourse. In this discourse the individual was framed as having the responsibility of it’s own health. If the individual was actively participating in the labour market, going to school or in other ways was making the “right choices” he or she was described to be more likely to establish a good mental health. Further, mental illness was described through typical female characteristics, and was in this construction framed as an individual problem, e.g. of handling stress. As a result of the hegemonic construction of gender, where the male sex is considered the norm, the woman is here framed as problematic and incompetent in dealing with the demands of the postmodern society. Hence, in the neoliberal discourse mental illness among youths can be understood as an advanced liberal way of governing conduct, were the ideal citizen is understood as competent, active and self-regulated.

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