Constructing a Female Delinquent Self: Assessing Pupils in the Dutch State Reform School for Girls, 1905-1975
s.n. : S.l.
Number of pages
RU Radboud Universiteit, 13 oktober 2016
Promotores : Haute, P.I.M.M. van, Jansen, W.H.M. Co-promotor : Mak, G.A.
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Leerstoel Fundamentele filosofie
SubjectCenter for Contemporary European Philosophy (CCEP)
This dissertation examines the ways in which the four key assessment techniques used in the Dutch State Reform School for Girls (1905-1975) functioned in processes of identity construction for the pupils. To do so, it looks inside the dossiers of the pupils, in which the paper traces of these assessment techniques – pedagogical-pathological examination, autobiography-writing, Rorschach-testing and psychological examination – were preserved. These sources are studied by means of the praxiographic approach and discourse analysis. Through examining both the practices of the techniques and the rhetoric of the paper traces they left – pupils’ anthropometric examination forms, autobiographies, Rorschach test reports and psychological reports – this dissertation shows that the assessment techniques that were used in the institution did not primarily revolve around their contents, but around their practices. Moreover, this research demonstrates that each assessment technique produced a different “delinquent girl”. With each technique, the assessors claimed to see deeper into the girl, and the techniques increasingly created an individual with an inner self. Not only did the techniques thus construct the idea that these girls had inner selves, but they produced the idea that the girls had to live in accordance with their inner selves. However, the “true” inner selves that the techniques enacted left little room for individuality. Who the girls were actually said to be, was very much in line with the assessors’ gender- and class-informed norms: these working-class delinquent girls’ “true” selves were said to be sexually restrained. Historians of the modern self sketch a development in which self-exploration became increasingly important. In the Dutch State Reform School for Girls, however, it was the professionals, and not the girls, who delved into the girls’ depths and, supposedly, had the key to who they were. With every technique that was used in the reformatory, however, a different girl was constructed
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