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EU governance and eating disorders: Where can feminist activism go?

Edquist, Kristen. (2007) EU governance and eating disorders: Where can feminist activism go? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    This paper applies a constructivist approach to transnational mental health advocacy in the context of the European Union (EU). Interaction between advocacy networks and EU governmental bodies is increasingly governed by "soft" (i.e., legally non-binding) measures including benchmarking, good or best practices, within the framework of an "open method of co-ordination", in which advocates attempt to influence state delivery of mental health services. These governance tools illustrate the spread of quality assurance practices from industry and consumer services to the realm of mental health policy in Europe. The paper argues that this "managerial" form of governance puts mental-health advocates under increased surveillance, either by state actors or state agents (some of whom may be other advocates), while at the same time empowering them to contribute the scientific expertise as well as the principles under which their activities will be governed. One result is that feminist advocates will face pressures both to play two potentially incompatible roles of expert and "outsider." Thus, regarding the question whether the EU is a feminist ally, this paper finds that EU governance of mental health issues conditions the terms on which feminist advocates can ally with the Commission around their mental health concerns, and that EU governance principles (especially as embodied in the Lisbon strategy) shape the mobilization strategies feminist advocates can employ, but also that professional feminist advocates, along with other advocates, rely on and bring to EU programs the diagnostic standards used to implement those programs. This creates a complex relation between state/EU actors and advocates. The paper raises the concern that in the managerial framework of EU policy, feminist advocates stand to adopt a "rationality of rule" in which advocacy is restricted to building expertise in diagnostic approaches to mental health patterns that have significant yet underexplored gender dimensions to them, and in the process, to "render societies governable" rather than producing the conditions for a healthy or empowered citizenry. To the extent that these dynamics entail from their interaction with EU practices, feminist mental-health advocates will have to view such interaction with caution.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Open Method of Coordination (OMC).
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > governance: EU & national level
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > public health policy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > social policy > gender policy/equal opportunity
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series: UNSPECIFIED
    ["eprint_fieldname_eusries" not defined]: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 22
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:50
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/7803

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