The Threat or Promise of Popular Therapy? A Feminist Reading of Narratives of 'the Good Couple'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Popular therapeutic culture—such as self-help books, TV programmes, and Internet resources—is growing rapidly and posing important questions for feminist research and politics. On the one hand, it can be seen as a challenge to the public sphere in terms of what can be shown and said and by whom, with the emancipatory potential of giving political credentials to the personal. On the other, it can be seen as exploiting, and thereby reproducing, stereotypes and inequalities, such as those related to gender. In this article, the discussion is advanced by the use of Swedish popular therapy for couples as a point of departure. It is argued that a cultural narrative of the “good couple” is constructed in self-help books and TV programmes on relationship issues, a narrative that seems to keep the unequal nature of this heterosexual institution from being challenged. However, in the individual narratives of consumers of this culture, apparent on web discussion boards, the cultural narrative of the “good couple” is being challenged, not least with reference to gender and gender inequality.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • sociologi, sociology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-162
JournalNORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch