”I wish I had gone on a diet”. Citizenship in Danish campaigns and the novel The Mountain

Camilla Schwartz


Health and physicality play a key role in the citizenship grammar of the late welfare state, and the citizen’s identity is increasingly linked to body functions and body appearance. In particular, overweight citizens are positioned as deviations from the norms of ideal citizenship in the late welfare state. However, health and physicality alone do not define citizenship in the late welfare state because alongside these ideals run demands for the citizen to be mobile, adaptable and adjusted to a constant process of optimization. The higher goal of this process is articulated as the illusion of future happiness. On the basis of various narratives on obesity, this article examines the frameworks for the citizenship ideals and subjectivity perceptions of the late welfare state (2009–2011) and looks at how the Danish novel Bjerget (The Mountain) from 2001 by Mads Brenøe establishes a dialogue with and problematizes these ideals.

The idea is to examine how the Danish welfare state creates different narratives about the welfare citizen: How do they interpellate the citizen, and how does literature respond to these narratives in their own words?

In the article obesity represents an example of subjectifica- tion in the late welfare state. The article deals with subjectivity in general, not specifically the citizenship of obese people, and the theoretical framework is based on theories of subjectivity in general, not obesity studies in particular

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