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Symposium Dignity in dependence and emotional labour

17th of May 2017
A symposium organised by the Researchgroup ‘The Promise of Proximity’, (University of Amsterdam & University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, the Netherlands)


Information and application

Short description

Self-reliance, independence and personal responsibility are leading notions of welfare state reform. Citizens are expected to demand less from public services and be more ‘self-reliant’ and ‘independent’ – words that often hide new dependencies, from family members and volunteers as opposed to professional workers. Professional care and support are restricted in terms of time and money, which puts professionals under pressure to compromise their quality standards.

These reforms are not just about changing ways of thinking about and organising support; they also come with a new emotional regime, with new demands for emotional labour of clients as well as workers, family members, friends and neighbors. A regime that possibly entails feelings of pride about managing to fulfil expectations of self- or family-reliance, but may as well cause feelings of guilt and shame. Professionals and family members might feel guilty for not doing enough. Clients may struggle with shame and guilt for being dependent and being a burden to others or society.

In this symposium, we want to explore the emotional regime of current welfare state reform. What appeals to what emotions are at play in current welfare state reform, and how do people subjected to them respond to these appeals? How do they work on feelings of pride, shame and guilt? How does welfare state reform affect peoples’ notions and feelings of self-worth and dignity? Does this new emotional regime also give rise to resistance of clients, family members and or professionals, and if so, how and with what effect for their dignity and self-worth? Or does it cause resentment and anger, resulting in blaming ‘others’ (e.g. migrants or refugees) for budget cuts, the loss of professional support, and collectively financed provisions?



Contactpersoon Laurine Blonk
Locatie Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, Utrecht
Website http://www.uvh.nl/symposium-dignity-in-dependence
Datum 17-5-2017
Openingstijden 13.00 - 17.00 hrs