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Risk and the regulated self: the discourse of health promotion as politics of uncertainty

Petersen, A.R. (1996) Risk and the regulated self: the discourse of health promotion as politics of uncertainty. Journal of Sociology, 32 (1). pp. 44-57.

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Employing the concepts of risk and governance, this paper develops a specific theoretical and critical perspective on the discourse of health promotion. The paper begins by examining some problems with the influential formulations of risk offered by Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. It then discusses some recent Foucaultian contributions on the topics of risk and governance, and particularly the work of Robert Castel, which draw attention to the role of risk discourse and self-regulatory techniques of governance in those societies exhibiting a form of rule known as 'neo-liberalism'. The paper examines health promotion in the light of the new preventive strategies of social administration that have emerged in these societies and that target the 'at risk' individual and utilise the agency of subjects in processes of self-regulation. It explores some implications of the new risk discourse for the self, and raises some questions about the politics of the enterprise of health promotion as a whole.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Sage Publications
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