8th Annual Qualitative/Critical Methods Conference - Critical Methods Society


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Something for nothing
  Paper presented at the 8th Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "Something for nothing"
1 May to 30 September 2002 (http://criticalmethods.org/p132.mv)
Liberation, happiness and social change: an analysis of 'mind, body and spirit'
Helen, A. N. Lee

Contact e-mail: HL1@staffs.ac.uk
Affiliation: Staffordshire University



This paper draws on a textual analysis informed by social constructionist and post-structuralist discourse analysis to explore the ways in which personal and social change is constructed within a 'mind, body, spirit' genre. Often 'mind, body, spirit' texts provide the promise of personal health and happiness, successful relationships, personal fulfilment and a means of liberating people from the stresses and strains of everyday life. These texts as illustrative of the Mind, Body, Spirit genre can be framed as a form of self-help as they claim to provide the means through which to soothe, heal and in some way develop the person beyond their current mode of being towards what is construed as something more positive and ultimately better. While this individualistic discourse can be interpreted as problematic - critiqued on the grounds of a 'politics of individualism', at the same time to outright dismiss this discourse perhaps is to speak from a somewhat privileged position of self efficacy and self determination.

Moving away in part from the promises of personal fulfilment, in addition these texts refer to social, environmental and humanitarian concerns. This paper explores the representation of these concerns within Mind, body, spirit texts and suggests that rather than engaging proactively with a social change agenda, they work to constitute any such resolutions to these concerns individualistically in terms of a personal locus of change.


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