Alain Ehrenberg : la société du malaise. presentation for a dialogue between clinical practice and sociology

« Discontent in society » is less a point of departure than a problem that needs to be elaborated and clarified. The author suggests replacing the individualistic ideal that society causes psychical suffering be replaced with the sociological idea that psychical suffering is today an obligatory, that is, expected, way of expressing of social suffering. This leads him to the hypothesis that in the area of mental health, we are witnessing a generalization of the use of personal idioms to give form to and resolve conflicts in social relations. These language games consist of making a connection between personal unhappiness and disrupted social relations using the yardstick of psychical suffering, thus bringing together individual suffering and shared suffering. From there, he develops the hypothesis that, obscured by the malaise, a equality crisis is being played out in the French style, that is, a crisis of an equality that is conceived essentially in terms of protection, and a protection in terms of status, according to the model of public functioning, while today’s equality, and thus the struggle against social inequality, is played out in terms of capacity.

Adolescence, 2011, T. 29 n° 3, pp. 553-570.