Critical cultural theory

Authored by: Sami Timimi

Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138225473
eBook ISBN: 9781315399584
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that in the developed West we live in societies where neoliberal values encourage individuals to compete with each other, resulting in ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, and where the ever-present anxiety of losing has been subject to market forces resulting in the growth of a profitable mental health industry that locates causes and solutions of failure and other struggles as residing within the individual. Due to my focus on the broader social, political and cultural contexts, there is, of course, a danger of losing sight of the intentional person making sense of their reality. The arguments forwarded here, however, should not be seen as deterministic and able to explain the specific struggles of any individual or family, merely a broader set of tendencies within which such conflict and distress are situated. Nonetheless, this position also understands that children are socialised by belonging to a particular culture at a certain moment in that culture’s history, so that certain aspects of young people’s behaviour can be seen as influenced by broader tendencies involving beliefs and practices around child development, family functioning and institutional and socialisation processes, all of which are influenced by the economic and political realities that govern our material lives.

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