In my ongoing doctoral project, I study the pedagogical and normative aspects of the insistent talk about sexual and emotional liberation, fulfilment, and personal growth as it transpired in Sweden c. 1960–1980. The empirical cases are drawn from three different fields of pedagogical enterprise: leadership training, parenting courses, and sexual advice literature. Within these three, rather different contexts, freedom and authenticity in emotional (or sexual) reactions and expressions were systematically encouraged and made the goal of advanced exercises, elaborate training programmes, and a structured, goal-oriented work aimed at improving the self and one’s ability to form authentic relationships to others. By studying the norms embedded in these projects, and the role they played in modern subject formation and the construction of social and political identities, I hope to shed light on the emergence of late modern reform programmes focused on the individual and concerned with individual self-optimisation, which have since proliferated.
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