EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


The expert's voice: marketable discourses on choice and risk management

Location Humanities Small Seminar Room 2
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Alexandra Bakalaki (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki) email
Venetia Kantsa (University of the Aegean) email
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Long Abstract

The proliferation of marketable expert discourses aiming to empower individuals to improve their circumstances, make the right choices or cope with adversity has been the focus of considerable theorizing in social science. It has been linked to the progressive demise of the welfare state, the increasing alignment of university education and research with the demands of the market, the new kinds of insecurity brought about by the shift to flexible employment and retraining, and the growing demands of biopolitics for health risk management. It has been seen as constitutive of an emergent ontology in the context of which social practices are reduced to individual choices and individuality is defined as one's capacity to enlarge the scope of one's choices over one's actions and relations, but also one's body.

This workshop aims to explore the ways in which various expert discourses are produced, solicited, interpreted and put into practice in specific contexts. We welcome contributions focusing on the perspective of both experts and clients and we are especially interested in ethnographic accounts illustrating perceptions of expert discourses as indicators or facilitators of an emergent homogeneity and /or as repositories of knowledge that may be deployed to enhance diversity.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Expert discourses on entrepreneurship in career services

Author: Laura Glauser (University of Bremen)  email
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Long Abstract

Based on my ethnographic research at two university career services in Germany, I analyze how staff and clients, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, view contemporary work relationships. Although there seems to be a general understanding among the experts that flexibility, entrepreneurship, self-management and self-marketing constitute necessary central market requirements, there exists no dominant and homogenous expert discourse. My paper focuses on how different ideas of successful and desirable working lives are discussed and negotiated between the experts and clients in courses and coaching sessions. I will point out the ambiguous and contradictory perceptions of contemporary working life and market requirements. What is understood as flexibility, entrepreneurship etc. is constructed and continuously re-negotiated within the career services. Thus, ideas of work relationships evolve which only partly correspond to the individualized images of contemporary working life.

Expert knowledge and developmental corporations in Greece

Author: Eleftheria Deltsou (University of Thessaly)  email
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Long Abstract

Since the mid-1990s developmental corporations proliferated throughout Greece. Most of these corporations constitute institutional bodies that were founded by local or regional authorities and other public or private institutions not so much in order to implement European Union policies, as to locate E.U funding opportunities. Aims of these corporations are the promotion of local and/or regional development, the conduct of market researches, as well as the consultation of businesses and administrative agencies in effective management. While these corporations uniformly constitute promoters of E.U forms of governance, they re-produce the technicalities of a formal perception of development deeply entrenched in the new technopolitics of the market: the promotion of scientific and professional erudition, the application of ISO criteria both to themselves and to agencies they support, all speak a language of expertise that decides on what constitutes a marketable "product" and how the quality of this product is to be evaluated.

Expertise in hope: assisted reproduction as investment for the future

Author: Venetia Kantsa (University of the Aegean)  email
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Long Abstract

In his book The Enigma of the Gift Maurice Godelier (1998) has argued that in every society there is always something that cannot be bought, donated or exchanged and he asserted that in modern capitalist market economies persons are the ones who are considered to be "sacred" and cannot be bought or given out; they only belong to their owners in order to sustain their identities. However, at the same time, an ever growing stock of "bought or given out" frozen human genetic material -sperms, eggs, and tissues- emerges which performs as a "stock market" to the extent that its main purpose is future investment. Drawing on ethnographic research in contemporary Greece I aim to explore the role of medical and legal experts as agents of hope and examine whether the notion of an autonomous subjectivity that is strongly connected to the right of negotiating and choosing "life" investments enhances the expertise of doctors and lawyers beyond their strict profession.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.