Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN16_02b_H: Discussing Mental Health and Illness: Negotiating Stigma and Power
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Joana Zózimo, Faculdade de Economia/Centro de Estudos Sociais - University of Coimbra
Location: HA.1.2
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Empowered against stigma of mental illness – a case of mothers of individuals with schizophrenia in Poland

Anna Prokop-Dorner

Jagiellonian Univeristy, Poland

Severe mental illnesses pose a pervasive threat of stigmatization on the afflicted individuals and their close ones. The presentation demonstrates findings from a qualitative study aimed at describing the experience of coping with courtesy stigma among parents accompanying their adult children with schizophrenia in Poland. While most of the family members of afflicted individuals anticipate exclusion and experience overarching shame leading to life in secrecy and isolation, some of them decide to face numerous barriers, including stereotypical convictions, attitudes of reluctance as well as excluding and discriminating practices in their communities. Basing on the cases of mothers engaged in shaping local discourses on mental health as well as creating facilities for individuals with mental health problems, the social factors empowering relatives endangered with social exclusion will be discussed.

Targeting or pushing away pupils with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis School strategies on the educational market in Stockholm

Emma Christina Laurin, Emil Bertilsson

Uppsala University, Sweden

In the long standing sociological critique of neuropsychiatric diagnoses, such as ADHD, educational systems have been depicted as oppressive agents of state control and medicalization (Singh 2008). While neuropsychiatric diagnoses are still pronounced features in educational settings medicalization is in fact negotiated by numerous actors and market interests (Conrad 2005). Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts capital, strategy and field (Bourdieu 1996) and Hacking’s theory on transient mental illness (Hacking 2002) this study analyzes the social uses and meaning of ADHD- and ASD-diagnoses, specifically focusing on schools strategies.

The results are based on interviews with 15 principals, 30 parents to children with an ADHD- or ASD-diagnosis in Stockholm and a statistical correspondence analyzes mapping schools and their resources in relation to each other on what may be labeled as a school field.

The study shows that children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses play an important role in the competition among schools over pupils, resources and reputation on the educational market in Stockholm. Some schools pushed away children with diagnoses perceiving them as a risk for the schools while other schools specifically targeted children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses. The result indicates that the schools varying strategies may be understood in relation to the positions they upheld on the school field.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1996)[1989], The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Cambridge: Polity Press

Conrad Peter (2005) The shifting engines of medicalization, Journal of health and social behavior 46, 1: 3–14.

Hacking Ian (2002) [1998], Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia

Singh Ilina (2008) ADHD, culture and education, Early Child Development and Care 178, 4: 347–61,

Maintaining the ordinary

Trude Gjernes, Per Måseide

Nord university, Norway

The paper focuses on staff members’ work to make involvement in activities by persons with dementia appear as ordinary. This means to help making these persons’ subjectivity appear as ordinary as possible. The analytical approach is inspired by Harvey Sacks article, “On doing being ordinary ". Data are from a caring institution for people with dementia. Data consist of interviews with staff members and observations.

When people with dementia behave in extraordinary ways, the staff tries to make them behave in manners they consider to be or resemble normal or ordinary behavior. Appropriate guidance is described by staff members as “quiet and invisible to others”. Attempts are made to make the disease as invisible or unremarkable as possible. The hiding or making interactional consequences of dementia as invisible as possible is considered vital, because it will protect the patient from being stigmatized by others, it may reduce their experiences of loss and thereby make them less depressed. The main idea among the staff is that “a person with dementia should be able to go to the grocery store together with staff members and be seen by others as if he were you or me". "You do not take someone who has been principal and go bowling together with students from the school where he worked, to let them watch him and make him experience that he is not managing the game and loose face in front of them. You will rather take him for a walk".

Diagnosing Autism and the Politics of Childhood in Turkey: What is Lost in Translation?

Emine Yayalar

Bilkent University, Turkey

Historically, in Turkey children’s well-being was politicised and embedded within the nationalist discourses of the Turkish state. Furthermore, with the increasing penetration of neoliberalism in Turkey, the middle class has embraced selective education as a means to sustain class reproduction. This emphasis on education fuels anxieties of parents and educators creating a demand for private mental health services for children. The proposed paper builds on fieldwork conducted in Turkey to analyse the changing politics of childhood through a study of autism. Through observations and interviews with parents and professionals, I show that middle class parents have formed alliances with Western-educated experts to “disassemble” the autism spectrum and opt out of the world of autism altogether. They do this by keeping their children in a liminal space, a no-man’s land without a diagnosis and push for intense early intervention with the hopes that their children will be “cured” without having become part of what they deem the stigmatizing world of autism. I will discuss in detail the contestation over biomedical treatments, the changing nature of special education and “valorization of childhood” in an environment increasingly governed by the principles of neoliberalism.

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