Playful Hyper-responsibility and the Making of a Performing Audience

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    The citizen is currently presumed to lack both the will to take responsibility and the imagination to see what his or her responsibility may include. This »lack of responsibility« becomes an object of intervention because function systems see themselves as depending on the citizens: The educational system sees itself as depending on the student to succeed in creating learning; the health system sees itself as depending on the patient to succeed in promoting health. Responsibility games are one method used to make citizens responsible. In this paper we argue that these games and other present welfare politics striving to increase personal responsibility do not simply increase responsibility, they have at least two important effects: 1. With responsibility games personal responsibility is no longer presumed, and the form of personal responsibility is dislocated into a form of playful hyper-responsibility. To be recognized as responsible, the citizen should go second order and reflect on and investigate his / her potential responsibilities. 2. Responsibility games redistribute the roles in the function systems as the traditional distinction between performance roles (e.g. doctor or teacher) and audience role (e.g. patient or student) is challenged by a new hybrid, »the performing audience« . The citizen is both an object of treatment and investigation, - with the professional as the expert - , and a performer, regarding him / herself through the eyes of the system in order to take responsibility.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSoziale Systeme
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)433–455
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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