PhD student in Sociology, Paris Descartes University
Thesis defended on 2O October 2015: Comparative ethnography of early evidence-based preventive interventions, in France and in the United States
Under the supervision of Xavier Briffault
In recent decades, a new priority in public-health policies has been to develop actions in the prevention of mental disorders and in the promotion of mental health aimed at avoiding the occurrence of many later medical and social problems. The emergence of a new public-health paradigm in mental health reflects a new view of the individual (through DSM diagnostic criteria, epidemiology- and psychometrics-related data, etc.) and the establishment of new forms of care (evidence-based interventions). This ethnographical project contributes to questioning, from a primarily sociological and epistemological perspective, the way in which public health today uses mental-health objects (operationalization of human relations, extension of the paradigm of evidence-based medicine to mental health, universalization of programs implying the standardization of practices and behavior, etc.). I will focus more particularly on the appropriation by public-health policies of parenthood and early childhood from the point of view of risk-behavior prevention, which is currently becoming increasingly important and is the subject of many controversies. This new interest has resulted in the establishment of evidence-based preventive interventions making it possible to act on children but also on parental practices considered as a risk factor in disorders among children. The main goal of this project is to conduct a comparative ethnographic investigation in France and in the United States, where these interventions originated. We will compare how the health model conveyed by these evidence-based interventions is articulated with the societal rationales of the two countries. The project will provide elements of sociological reflection on the relevance of the universal reasoning underpinning evidence-based mental medicine. It will also contribute some answers to how the knowledge of sociology should be articulated with that of public health in the area of mental health.