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Shrinking the Planet

Understanding the growth of psychotherapy and its role in shaping new global middle-class identities.

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Illustration photo: Colourbox

Our world is changing rapidly as the centres of economic and political power shift from Europe and North America to South and East Asia. The new middle classes of China and India will be the drivers of new patterns of consumer taste and culture over the next century. This is a planetary social revolution of historic importance. But how much do we know about these new groups that are coming into being and changing the shape of global society? What drives them and motivates them? What values and emotions move them and inform them?

Shrinking the Planet attempts to provide an answer to this question through an in-depth exploration of one of the most significant "culture industries" in countries with rapidly expanding new middle-classes; psychotherapy.

In Russia, India and China, psychotherapy has gone from being marginalised or even illegal in recent years to being a mass culture industry involving hundreds of thousands of members of the new middle-classes.

Through in-depth participant observation with trainee psychotherapists in these three countries the project aims to provide a snapshot of the emerging subjectivities of these new social groups that will shape global culture over the coming century.

Three anthropologists will conduct fieldwork in each of the three countries in a psychotherapy training institute and with recently qualified therapists to construct a unique document of these world-views as they come into being.


Shrinking the Planet is a research project that is ongoing from 2020 to 2024, funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Published Sep. 17, 2020 10:06 AM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2021 3:03 PM