Accepted paper:

Masculinity in utopic and dystopian fantasies of compulsory care


Kim Silow Kallenberg (UmeƄ University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the tension between utopic and dystopian fantasies in the realities of institutional practices in compulsory care. Masculinity is a substantial part of the fantasmatic narratives in the institutional setting.

Paper long abstract:

Utopia may be a central theme in the envisioning of possible futures, but so is also its opposite: dystopia. In this paper the tension between these two poles of imaginaries of the future are explored, in the analysis of ethnographies of compulsory care. Tools of analysis are a discourse theoretical logics approach as well as the concept of fantasy in lacanian psychoanalysis. In the realities of compulsory care narratives that take the form of utopic and dystopian fantasies contribute to the construction of staff identity and treatment practices. Masculinity is a central part of the organization of the care of delinquent teenagers, and is also present in narratives of and in institutional practices. First of all, the understanding of teenagers with psychosocial problems is to a high degree constructed through narratives of problematic masculinity. Secondly, the staff culture of the institution is masculine in its character. Here, masculinity is a prerequisite for being able to carry out ones work, and (paradoxically) considered to be a positive qualification. Men are norm amongst staff and this is also legitimated with reference to male and muscular bodies able to uphold security and prevent violence. Women are deemed a security risk, often only valued for their motherly qualifications. Dystopian fantasies in the institutional context are therefore often narratives of women interfering with the natural order of masculinity.

panel Gend006
Gendered realities: old issues, new heritage