Seeing Like a DSM: Therapeutic Governance, Welfare, and Social Workers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article suggests considering the processes affiliated with therapeutic governance through the relationships between social workers and prisoners’ wives. Research findings reveal unique practices of therapeutic governance that in turn maintain the state gazes that help regulate welfare individuals and populations: the invention of psychiatric categories and the conviction that they appear in the hegemonic psychiatric classification manual (DSM); definition of two selected emotions (shame and anger) as critical to therapeutic subjectivity; the internalization of a specific femininity expressed, inter alia, by “therapeutic clothing” and the absence of “grotesque excess,” as an indicator of recovery and normal subjectivity, which in turn increases the chances of receiving financial assistance from the welfare authorities. The discussion section maps out the unique research contributions of the article to the links between welfare, therapy, and surveillance in the everyday life of subaltern populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-200
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • gender deviance
  • psychological discourse
  • subjectivity
  • surveillance
  • therapeutic governance
  • welfare

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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