Impeding or Promoting a Grassroots Phenomenon?—On Self-Help Projects as Public Sector Means in Norway

Roar Stokken
Johan Barstad
Gudrun Thokle

DOI: 10.2190/SH.6.1.f


This article investigates the inner working of self-help projects funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. It seeks to identify and characterize factors that help these projects flourish or present them with challenges. As such it is not an article about self-help groups, but about their support structure. The analysis is framed by Borkman's notion of professional and experiential knowledge, Habermas' distinction between System and Lifeworld, and Amdam and Amdam's model for communicative planning. Six ventures are presented, selected through a four-step process. The most important factor enabling self-help projects to flourish seems to be having a project manager with legitimacy and active networks that reach into all organizations involved. We further observe that projects attuning to a communicative/negotiative approach seem most prone to flourish. This by allowing various actors to project their own perspectives and intentions into the project, into activities, and into self-help.

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