Ethnographies of Therapeutic Governance and Agentic Resistance in Support Groups for Prisoner’s Wives

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This article suggests expanding our understanding about the mundane use of therapeutic governance regarding welfare populations, through ethnographies of support groups for prisoners’ wives in Israel. The findings reveal that although prisoners’ wives meet the neoliberal ideal of financial independence (and therefore it is not possible to regulate them by discourse of need), they are regulated via the discourse of desire. The findings also disclose ethnographies of confrontations within all the meetings, and the agentic transition between resistance strategies (from overt conflict and challenging the psychological discourse, to negotiation and strategic passing). The discussion uncovers the ramifications of therapeutic governance, which defines inter alia therapeutic subjectivity via its requirement for nonpolitical awareness, within a welfare population that experiences daily oppression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-260
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • passing
  • resistance
  • support groups
  • therapeutic governance
  • welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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