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User-driven standards in a mutual help context: the co-emergence of subjects and standards

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  • Mille Kirstine Bygballe Keis, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Asger Nymann Nielsen
  • ,
  • Morten Nissen
Standards entail abstractions and generalizations. The 12-step fellowships (i.e., Alcoholics, Narcotics, Overeaters Anonymous, etc.) are all grounded in the same 12 steps and 12 traditions, originally developed for Alcoholics Anonymous. Furthermore, several principles and practices can be found across different fellowships addressing different addictions. At the same time, 12-step literature and most academic analyses of the fellowships agree that the content of these
standards is never definite; no one but oneself may decide whether one lives up to the standard in question. Thus, 12-step fellowships seem a pure case of how the duality of social structure and personal definition is built into the fabric of standards. Yet, with a closer attention to practices, negotiations, and performances, it is possible to disturb this neat distribution of abstract-social
versus concrete-personal. Drawing on two recent studies of Copenhagen fellowships, this article aims to problematize the assumption that user-driven standards must assume the pseudocommercial “logic of choice,” in favor of a view of subjects and standards as co-emerging.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory & Psychology
Pages (from-to)243-262
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

    Research areas

  • Psycho-Politics of Self-Exposure, UDS User Driven Standards

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