Social Work Discretion between Professionalism and Managerialism in Denmark

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskning


Professionalism and managerialism are important and conflicting concepts in the study of professionals working in public service organizations. By focusing on street-level social workers and social work discretion, it is possible to see how welfare-to-work policies are practiced as well as how organizational articulations opens or closes for discretion in social work. This paper seeks on an empirical basis to account for how management organizes, supervises and seeks control over social work discretion and, consequently, influences the discretionary powers of social workers in a Danish municipality working with clients who are unfit for work or work market as a result of ill health. In Denmark the local municipal Job Centre is the primary service delivery involved in welfare-to-work. Here values, interest and policies, transformed into rules and regulation, meet the concrete practices of welfare-to-work service inside the specific street-level organization. This is a fundamental democratic process of implementation making discretion inevitable and crucial as professional judgments, followed by decision making under supervision, determines the client’s eligibility to benefits and need for special attention or intervention before returning to work after ill health. Here professionalism is institutionalized in bureaucratic organizations. Hence the social workers must control clients’ legal access to sick leave programmes and at the same time deliver individualized services in order to remove barriers for working in order to helping clients in becoming self-supporting after ill health. As well as examining how social work discretion is made possible in the work organization, the research behind the paper focuses on the issue of new forms of professionalism in social work. In the light of policy changes and reforms of welfare services new types of social interventions towards people on sick leave is demanded, putting the street-level organization under pressure of professionalism.
Publikationsdato13 jul. 2014
StatusUdgivet - 13 jul. 2014
BegivenhedISA World Congress of Sociology: Facing an unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology - Yokohama, Japan
Varighed: 13 jul. 201419 jul. 2014
Konferencens nummer: XVIII


KonferenceISA World Congress of Sociology