Responsibility talk in short Finnish texts on personal wellbeing

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2018


Responsibility talk in short Finnish texts on personal wellbeing (Abstract)


Hanna Tuohimaa


Responsibility is a concept with multiple meanings and uses. In relation to wellbeing, it may be used, for example, to define causal agency or taking charge, as well as to define liability and moral obligations to lead a specific lifestyle. In addition, the same issues may also be discussed without using the responsibility concept at all. In this sense, responsibility talk expands beyond the concept and may be seen as a compilation of discourses circling around the concept from different perspectives. In this article, 72 short texts written about personal wellbeing for a Finnish writing competition in 2010 were analysed in order to evaluate how the authors discuss responsibility. The analysis shows that an accountability- and blame- oriented public debate on health and wellbeing is identified by many of the authors in the data. However, for the authors, being responsible mainly means listening to oneself, making decisions and choosing what is good for oneself and for one's loved ones, irrespective of outside pressure to act otherwise. This positively toned definition of responsibility provides a viable starting point for discussing wellbeing in the public domains. Yet the negative connotations also need to be acknowledged. Overall, more theorising and research are still needed.