Governing depression in law students and the shaping of legal personae

Ball, Matthew J. (2010) Governing depression in law students and the shaping of legal personae. In Velayutham, Selvaraj, Ebert, Norbert, & Watkins, Sheila (Eds.) Proceedings of TASA Conference 2010 : Social Causes, Private Lives : The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, The Australian Sociological Association , Sydney, NSW, pp. 1-10.

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Since a recent Australian study found that university law students experience higher rates of depression than medical students and legal professionals (Kelk et al. 2009), the mental health of law students has increasingly become a target of government. To date, however, there has been no attempt to analyse these practices as an activity of government in advanced liberal societies. This paper addresses this imbalance by providing an initial analytics of the government of depression in law schools. It demonstrates how students are responsibilised to manage the risks and uncertainties of legal education by constructing resilient forms of personal and professional personae. It highlights that, in order to avoid depression, students are encouraged to shape not just their minds and bodies according to psychological and biomedical discourses, but are also to govern their ethical dispositions and become virtuous persons. This paper also argues that these forms of government are tied to advanced liberal forms of rule, as they position the law student as the locus of responsibility for depression, imply that depression is caused by an individual failing, and entrench students within responsibilising and entrepreneurial forms of subjectivity.

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ID Code: 39129
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: depression, legal education, governmentality, resilience, mental health, Foucault
ISBN: 978-0-646-54628-5
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology not elsewhere classified (160899)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 13 Dec 2010 01:38
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:27

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