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"An ein geordnetes Leben gewöhnen" - Die administrative Anstaltsversorgung als Zwangsmassnahme im Spannungsfeld von Fürsorge, Justiz und Psychiatrie im Kanton Bern (zweite Hälfte 20. Jh.)

English title Administrative detention. Coercive social welfare policies towards socially deviant men and women in Switzerland in the canton of Berne 1884-1981
Applicant Rietmann Tanja Maria
Number 125599
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution International Institute for Social History
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Swiss history
Start/End 01.08.2009 - 31.07.2010
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All Disciplines (3)

Swiss history
General history (without pre-and early history)

Keywords (6)

social welfare policies; human rights; disciplining institutional arrangements; psychiatry; case studies; intersectionality

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
In Switzerland "workshy", "idleness" or "alcohol abuse" were not only considered as deviant behaviour but were also punished in rather drastic ways throughout the 20th century. Swiss welfare authorities detained men and women whom they considered socially deviant but who had not committed a crime in prisons and other correctional institutions to "resocialize" them. In many ways these forms of detention (administrative Versorgung) violated the principles of a state under the rule of law. Firstly, the separation of powers was not maintained: Not a judge, but government members decided on detentions without court orders. Second, the detainee had no legal right to appeal. Thirdly, criteria for detention were extremely vague. "Idleness", for example, was hardly defined but was used to capture a wide range of deviant behaviours. It was only in the 1970s that the legal instrument of administrative Versorgung, which originated from the poor laws of the 19th century, was reformed. It was transformed into a purely psychiatric instrument (fürsorgerische Freiheitsentziehung) which was in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.I examine the discourse and practice of administrative Versorgung in the second half of the 20th century. How did ideas of human rights and democracy as well as new guiding principles and new methods of assistance in social work and specific medical knowledge influence reforms in the field of administrative Versorgung? In addition to a discursive level, I explore on an institutional level how detention laws were put into practice and which institutions and experts, e.g. the police and psychiatrists, were involved in the process of detention. I use the Swiss canton of Bern as an example, as every canton had its own legal regulations. On a micro analytic level I examine the interactions between the authorities and the detainees. What scope of action did each have and what power relationships were established? How did the detainees experience their detention? I answer these questions using four in-depth case studies.My data are records from the Bernese administration, among which there are approximately 200 detailed case files of detainees. Further, I use contemporary professional literature and press articles. Theoretically, my study draws on approaches of cultural and social history and it also uses an intersectional approach. Methodically the dissertation employs the historical discourse analysis inspired by the work of Michel Foucault and also reconstructive hermeneutics.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
152094 Das Schweizer Verdingkinderwesen in den Kantonen Zürich, Bern und Basel (20. Jh.) - ein Vergleich (Arbeitstitel) 01.03.2014 Doc.CH