Order Of Disorder: Burnout And The New Finnish Economy

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During the late 1990s and early 2000s, when criticism of the welfare state peaked in Finland even amongst the political Left, the Finnish Ministry of Health identified workplace burnout [työuupumus] as an emergent health risk stemming from the changes made to productive practices in the name of national competitiveness. By depicting burnout as something emergent and "new," Finnish health officials provoked an orientation to the present as a distinct moment and the experience of those individuals diagnosed with burnout (and their particular qualities) as exemplifying this rupture from the past. Such a framework has contributed to self-examinations on the part of those diagnosed as to their personal qualities that make them ill-suited to the present. On a national level, the often moral depiction of those who fall under the category of burnout by the general public has come to signify for and to confirm that a moral subject of the non-competitive, welfarist era truly existed. In this sense, those diagnosed become for the nation the physical archive of what is believed to be lost. Based on two years of ethnographic field research in rehabilitation centers, self-help groups and public health forums for burnout, I explore how economic ideals (neoliberal or otherwise) intersect processes of self-constitution in that ideas about economics affect the production of the frame in which subjectivity, time, morality, ethics and notions of justice gain meaning. Often, scholarship inspired by Foucault‟s notion of biopolitics focus on the moral and ethical ramifications of disciplinary measures on the body. I build upon ideas of discipline, but reframe the issue psychoanalytically as one of language and being. I explore the struggles behind how subjects come to step into and identify with the categories and narratives of "burn out" and temporal belonging designated for them. In short, I ask: what does the discourse of burnout enable expression, and what does it obfuscate.

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Emergent disorder; temporality; Neoliberalism; burnout; Finland


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Boyer, Dominic C.

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Willford, Andrew C.
Fiskesjo, Nils Magnus G
Sakai, Naoki

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Ph. D., Anthropology

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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