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The Therapeutization of Work
There are by now many studies describing the profound impact of psychology on the Western welfare states of the twentieth century. This development of a “psychological society” is often seen as in many ways linked to industrialization; “human technologies” during this time became a part of the production apparatus. The last decades, however, has seen the development of a new economy based on information and communication technologies and a related shift in organizational paradigm from large hierarchical structures to networks of self-governing units – a change sometimes labelled the third industrial revolution.

This study takes as its geographical starting point the greater Stockholm area in Sweden. Through a variant of multi-sited ethnography it investigates the distribution of psychological knowledge in and through different institutions – such as school, work life, health care, mass media – by which individuals are supposed to acquire a psychological toolbox, thus becoming a kind of amateur psychologists or therapists, ready and able to take responsibility for their own health, well-being and productivity. The study tries to understand in what way this redistribution of a specific kind of psychological “know-how” has affected, and been affected by, the profound shift in techno-economic paradigm, that is, in what way the “psychological toolbox” is a part of the third industrial revolution.