Prof. Dr. Sabine Maasen (*1960) is a sociology professor who specializes in the field of science sociology. She studied sociology, linguistics, and psychology at the University of Bielefeld and received her PhD in sociology in 1996. In 2001, she was appointed as a professor of science research/science sociology at the University of Basel. In 2013, she became the holder of the Chair for Science Sociology at the Technical University of Munich. Maasen's research group, "Exploring TechnoSocieties," investigates how new technologies, such as social robotics and neurotechnologies, challenge the lives of individuals, collectives, and society (TechnoSociety). Maasen is also the director of the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), which conducts multidisciplinary research on "science and technology in technologized societies." She is a member of various committees, including the Scientific Commission of the German Science Council and the Scientific Commission of Lower Saxony.
Maasen, S., Elberfeld, J, Eitler, P., Tändler, M. (eds., 2011), Das beratene Selbst - Zur Genealogie der Therapeutisierung in den langen Siebzigern, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
The book Das Beratene Selbst, or The Consulted Self, discusses the rise of therapy and counseling in society, particularly in the context of neoliberal and neosocial forms of government. These practices, which were originally seen as a way for individuals to gain self-discovery and control, have since become technologies of the self that are used by the government as means of effective self-management and leadership for individuals in order to remain socially acceptable. However, this shift has also led to forms of external control and the creation of a relationship between the self and society that is organized around the concepts of "problem/solution" or "crisis/coping." The book examines the ways in which therapy and counseling are discussed, organized, and professionalized, as well as the methods and technologies used in these practices. It considers how therapy and counseling have become integrated into various aspects of society, including education, the legal system, and business, and describes the current state of therapy and counseling as a "therapy society," a "psychosocial counseling landscape," and a "therapy and counseling market." The authors argue that these developments reflect a new way of understanding the self and one's place in society, which emphasizes the importance of self-management skills and the need to continually adapt to changing social and individual demands.
This book is about the rise of therapy and counseling in society, particularly in the context of neoliberal and neosocialforms of government. In the 1970s, these practices were seen as a way for individuals to gain self-discovery and control through therapy and counseling, and they have since become technologies of the self that are used by the government as means of effective self-management and leadership for individuals in order to remain socially acceptable. However, this shift has also led to forms of heteronomy, or external control, and the discourse and institutions surrounding therapy and counseling have come to produce a relationship between the self and society that is organized around the concepts of "problem/solution" or "crisis/coping". Maasen's perspective on this issue is informed by the theory of governmentality, which examines the way in which these practices are integrated into neoliberal and neosocial forms of government.
Therapy and counseling have become increasingly widespread in society since the 1970s, both in terms of the number of therapeutic schools, procedures, facilities, staff, and clients, and the use of new settings as therapeutic spaces and the multiplication of therapists. These developments have been both described and critically examined, with some critics arguing that they represent forms of expertocracy or depoliticization and serve as a modern form of control through the idea of "therapy as social control or regulatory power". Today, there is a wide range of therapies and advice available for any type of potential client problem and these practices have become integrated into various aspects of society, including education, the legal system, and business. They are seen as key competencies for the entrepreneurial self or as participatory management tools in modern companies.
The collection of articles in this book look at the field of therapy and counseling, which has become increasingly diverse and complex. The articles focus on three main areas of development:
1. the ways in which therapy and counseling are discussed and understood (including the various factors that influence these discussions);
2. the ways in which they are organized and professionalized;
3. the methods and technologies used in these practices.
The authors also consider how therapy and counseling have become integrated into various aspects of society, including education, the legal system, and business. They describe the current state of therapy and counseling as a "therapy society," a "psychosocial counseling landscape," and a "therapy and counseling market," and argue that these developments reflect a new way of understanding the self and one's place in society, which emphasizes the importance of self-management skills and the need to continually adapt to changing social and individual demands.
Therapy and counseling practices, which have seen a significant increase in popularity and accessibility in the last few decades, have been classified as self-technologies. These practices are concerned with helping individuals manage and optimize their own lives, skills, and experiences in a way that is adaptable and competitive in a neoliberal environment. These self-technologies are widely available and appeal to all people, appearing in various forms such as therapy sessions, coaching, supervision, talkshows, internet chats, SMS advice, and self-help groups, both real and virtual. In a neoliberal context, these practices often take the form of a market, with providers (therapists, advisors), customers (clients), and products (schools, processes) all participating in the exchange of goods, services, and self-management skills. While these self-technologies of therapy and counseling can be seen as promoting individual self-management and adaptability, they may also reproduce and reinforce existing inequalities and power imbalances.
Therapy and counseling are becoming increasingly integrated into society, driven by three main factors: the order of discourse, the organization of discourse, and the mode of operation of discourse. These practices are aimed at helping individuals improve their self-management skills in order to be more competitive and successful in the market. However, this focus on self-optimization and the demand for individuals to take responsibility for their own well-being are not natural, but rather are part of a neoliberal ideology that emphasizes free markets and individual freedom. The use of therapy and counseling as self-technologies is closely connected to the idea of the "entrepreneurial self" that is expected to function well on the market for self-design services and to be successful in other markets as well. However, this concept of free markets and free individuals is an abstraction of reality, and serves the purpose of making society more governable.
The increasing trend of seeking advice and the implementation of therapeutic practices in society has led to the characterization of society as being "psychiatrized" or in need of therapy. This trend is self-perpetuating and may be driven by the increased complexity and uncertainty in modern society, which leads individuals to seek guidance in managing these uncertainties. However, this trend is flawed because it assumes individuals have the freedom to make choices and the power to shape their own futures, when in reality, their actions and outcomes are influenced by larger systems and structures. The demand for advice may be fueled by the projection of individuals as capable of having agency and free will in a world that is actually full of gaps in freedom and authority.
The 1970s marked a significant period of change in western societies, with factors such as the rise of digital financial capitalism, changes in the job market, advancements in science and technology, the growth of the media industry, changes in social structure, cultural shifts, and the rise of anti-authoritarian movements all contributing to a shift in the cultural and societal landscape. Some historians believe that these changes were reflected in culture and lifestyle, and that the growth of therapy and counseling can be seen as a response to political and economic changes. However, others argue that a focus on political and economic factors may not be sufficient to fully understand the changes of this period, and that an examination of subjectivity and specific government practices may be necessary.
Therapeutic counseling and its institutionalization can be seen as tools for managing cultural change, both on an individual and collective level. These institutions can be viewed as vehicles for addressing individual crises and social and historical transitions, and have a hybrid position in society as both indicators and drivers of change. Management discourses that emerged in the late 1960s and 70s, as a response to a perceived crisis in control, helped to facilitate the deregulation and flexibility of capitalism and the shift towards self-regulation and participation in management. However, this focus on the present and contemporary issues can risk ending up in the same space as sociology, with a proliferation of fleeting and risky diagnoses. The hope of the historian is that the historical perspective can offer a sense of alienation from current trends and potentially offer a sense of enlightenment or self-awareness. The focus of Enlightenment critique is on understanding the events and structures that shape us as subjects, and identifying the dangers of modernity, including the simultaneous existence of multiple and conflicting norms. However, it is important to consider what we mean by projects of individual liberation and academic critique, including Enlightenment, in the contemporary context.