Weighing the evidence: Risks and benefits of participatory documentary in corporatized clinics

Helena Hansen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper describes the effects of one U.S.-based public psychiatry clinic's shift to a centralized, corporate style of management, in response to pressures to cut expenditures by focusing on "evidence based" treatments. Participant observation research conducted between 2008 and 2012 for a larger study involving 127 interviews with policy makers, clinic managers, clinical practitioners and patients revealed that the shift heralded the decline of arts based therapies in the clinic, and of the social networks that had developed around them. It also inspired a participatory video self-documentary project among art group members, to portray the importance of arts-based therapies and garner public support for such therapies. Group members found a way to take action in the face of unilateral decision making, but experienced subsequent restrictions on clinic activities and discharge of core members from the clinic. The paper ends with a discussion of biopolitics, central legibility through corporate standardization, and the potential and risks of participatory documentaries to resist these trends.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)194-200
    Number of pages7
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    StatePublished - Dec 2013


    • Addiction
    • Arts therapy
    • Documentary
    • Ethnography
    • Evidence based medicine
    • Managed care
    • Participatory research
    • Psychiatry
    • Recovery
    • United States

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • History and Philosophy of Science


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