Normalization And “Outsiderhood”

Feminist Readings of a Neoliberal Welfare State

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This volume presents an illuminating analysis of the ways in which normalization processes and practices operate in a welfare state in an age of neoliberalism. This informative book problematizes the ...
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"THE OTHER WOMAN": CONSTRUCTING NEEDS IN A TRAINING PROJECT FOR DISABLED WOMEN AND IMMIGRANT WOMEN

Pp. 39-48 (10)

Gunilla Olofsdotter

Abstract

The main purpose of this chapter is to discuss the construction of immigrant and disabled women´s needs in a training project in relation to normalization and othering. I follow the process of implementing this project by studying documentation from the Swedish Government, The National Board of Health and Welfare, a women´s shelter and an interview with and log written by the supervisor of the project at the women’s shelter. The analysis shows how normalization takes place through the construction of privileged “normal” positions and “others” in the everyday practices of the project and in official documents. This shows how paradoxes may arise in projects that aim to help people in vulnerable situations. Although measures may be taken at the individual level, structural problems of exclusion and discrimination may persist unchanged. The project constitutes an example of how welfare institutions, by identifying certain groups as different and in need of specific interventions, silently normalize other groups. The displacement of responsibility from Government to a voluntary organization individualizes and atomizes the addressing of structural problems of gender inequality, immigration and support for the disabled. In order to understand the relationship between power and othering in the welfare state and to improve policies aimed at people in vulnerable situation it is therefore important to examine the chain of categorizations that takes place all the way down from Government to voluntary organization.

Keywords:

Disabled women, immigrant women, training project, othering, women´s shelter, normalization, categorization, constructing needs, welfare state, voluntary organizations.

Affiliation:

Department of Social Sciences, Mid Sweden University, 851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden.