Self-help and the surfacing of identity: Producing the Third Culture Kid

2017-07-27T14:59:10Z (GMT) by Sophie Cranston
In this paper, I argue for a need to expand our understanding of the role that self-help plays in the constitution of identities. Using the example of the Third Culture Kid (TCK) industry, I argue that self-help acts as a space of biopower through its role in managing the emotional experience of having been globally mobile as a child. To do this, the paper looks at how the TCK, as a subject, is surfaced as comfort in relation to the ascribed grief and insecurity of identity that is associated with childhood global mobility. Data are derived from a multi-sited ethnography, including a narrative analysis of TCK literature, reader discussions, participant observation at a TCK event and an online survey. The argument contributes to scholarly critiques of self-help by examining processes of production and consumption of TCK subjectivity enacted through the TCK industry. Thereby, the paper contends that in researching self-help we need a wider understanding of its production and consumption, how people are persuaded to use it, and how they respond to ideas presented within it.