Turning experience into expertise : technologies of the self in Finnish participatory social policy
Meriluoto, T. (2018). Turning experience into expertise : technologies of the self in Finnish participatory social policy. Critical Policy Studies, 12(3), 294-313. https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2017.1310051
Published inCritical Policy Studies
© 2017 Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Routledge. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
This article investigates the micro-level practices of subject-construction in Finnish participatory social policy. Through a governmental ethnography on projects that invite former beneficiaries to become ‘experts-by-experience’ in social welfare organizations, I discern the possibilities for freedom in the participants’ self-construction. By making use of Michel Foucault’s conceptual tools of care of the self and confession, I illustrate how, contrary to the projects’ emancipatory promise of providing the service users the freedom to reconstruct themselves, the projects entail practices that curb the participants’ way of ‘knowing themselves’. They require the service users to reframe their raw experiences as neutral and objective knowledge, making alternative ways of knowing appear ‘irrational’, and hence easily discountable. I conclude that despite the user involvement initiatives’ promise of incorporating different forms of knowledge, the participants are in practice required to realign their way of knowing with the dominant knowledge paradigm in order to be accepted as participants. ...
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