Since the 1990s, European welfare states have undergone substantial changes regarding their objectives, areas of intervention and instruments of use. There has been an increasing move towards the prioritisation of the involvement of citizens and the participation of civil society. This book focuses on the altered (powerful) conditions for encounters between citizens and welfare workers. It uses the concept of soft power, which, inter alia, allows for the investigations of the ways in which individuals manipulate each other in an effort to achieve their desired goals. The first part of the book discusses extracts from state-of-the-art research on professions and expertise, and the perception of power that guides the analyses. It also discusses the overall theoretical positioning when analysing encounters between welfare workers and citizens as co-productive and interactionist. The second part presents analyses to show how a bureaucratic context affects the encounter between administrators and clients, and how a market context affects the encounter between service providers and consumers/customers. The analysis of how a psychology-inspired context affects the encounter between coaches and coaches is also provided. All three contexts are to be perceived as Weberian ideal types, in other words, theoretical constructs based on observations of the real world. The concluding part of the book emphasises on the role of the principles of the bureaucracy, the norms from psychology, and the values of the market in the welfare encounter. Key points of the book are summarised in the conclusion.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the altered (powerful) conditions for encounters between citizens and welfare workers. It investigates the principles of the bureaucracy, values of the market and norms from psychology which one must highlight and foreground when analysing the powerful encounter between citizens and welfare workers. The book describes the dilemmas and paradoxes of present day welfare work. It considers the concept of soft power, which was first developed by J. S. Nye in relation to the research field of international relations and which places great emphasis on agency. The book includes research from countries that are often believed to belong to very different welfare models, such as the UK, the US, Australia, Scotland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.
This chapter begins with a brief overview of a few key themes within the sociology of professions, which are particularly relevant for analyses of welfare encounters. J. Evetts has written extensively on what constitutes professionalism and puts forth the notion of two ideal types of professionalism in knowledge-based work: organisational professionalism and occupational professionalism. The chapter focuses solely on why it is important to discuss professionalism in a different way today when investigating what goes on in (professional) work organisations. It describes set of themes related to the sociology of both professions and expertise, namely the discussions of new professionalism, re-professionalisation and de-professionalisation. The chapter also describes how these characteristics may be regarded as inextricable consequences of the strong current influence of marketisation and managerialism on welfare work.
The reason for using J. S. Nye's concept of soft power is that this concept makes it possible to show how power shapes agendas, attracts and makes others cooperate. Power consists of both structural elements and agency. The use of the concept of soft power directs attention to the complex practices of welfare work, which include principles, norms, rationales and ideals, as well as the specific strategies, interests and preferences of the involved individuals. Welfare work takes place within organisations that belong to a particular field, for instance, the fields of education, health and care. According to Bourdieu, these fields are all relatively autonomous and each field operates in accordance with a specific rationale or logic that is different from the rationales or logics of the adjacent fields. With inspiration from a Bourdieusian framework, W. Schinkel and M. Noordegraff examine the battle over (professional) power among welfare workers and managers.
This chapter introduces symbolic interactionism, that is, the interactionist approach to studying the in-between as suggested by Bartels. At the heart of symbolic interactionism lie the practices and actions between people and how these can be regarded as the effects of different ideas and theories within societies and organisations. The chapter discusses empirical studies of the encounter between welfare workers and citizens, with particular attention to their respective roles, their relationship with one another and the findings of the selected studies. The concept of institutional selves reflects ideas integrated in (physical) organisations where the encounter takes place and more general ideas in society about the troubles at hand. The chapter emphasises the soft power at play between citizens and welfare workers and exemplifies how the structural elements and agency of the two parties frame the encounter.
This chapter describes discretionary practices when discussing how the bureaucratic context affects the encounter between welfare workers and citizens. It focuses on the (stronger or weaker) effects of bureaucratic rules, procedures, values and so forth in encounters between welfare workers and citizens in bureaucratic organisations. An important feature of the bureaucratic organisation is the fact that the presence of clients is involuntary. The chapter introduces M. Weber's definition of the ideal-type bureaucracy. It also introduces the work of Michael Lipsky and Lipsky-inspired scholars on the discretionary practices of street-level bureaucrats. The goal of helping citizens on the basis of individual cases often contradicts the administrative rules and structures of bureaucratic organisations. In bureaucratic organisations, as analysed by Lipsky, staff are constantly considering the ambiguities and contradictions of their performance objectives and consequently form their own ideals of how to solve their clients' problems and deliver the best service.
This chapter focuses on market values and takes a closer look at how service and other ideals affect the encounter between citizens and welfare workers. It introduces the market context and its inherent principles, followed by a discussion of how the marketisation of public administration lays the groundwork for a number of challenges and dilemmas for both welfare workers and citizens. The chapter covers the ways in which the standards, benchmarks, guidelines, incentive structures and other aspects of new public management (NPM), combined with business values such as competition, choice and flexibility, have affected the encounter between the welfare worker and the citizen. Within the frame of NPM, both producers and consumers of welfare services are seen as driven by self-interest. The chapter discusses the role of the soft power of equality and courtesy in these idealised service encounters and concludes with a discussion on agency in market-inspired welfare work.
This chapter addresses behavioural issues and introduces the variety of scholarly work on the therapeutic state, the psychological state, the pedagogical state and so forth. It then discusses the approaches of personalisation and co-production. Psychology-inspired welfare work, including the personalisation and co-production approaches to the citizen has received much criticism. The chapter also discusses the agency of both welfare workers and citizens and how they each respond to the particular framing of the welfare work. Citizens and welfare workers may be able to adjust the expectations of the encountering party but will fail to change the overarching agenda of the encounter in any profound ways and must therefore accept the roles or positions of coaches and coachee. However, the psychologisation of welfare work implies that citizens are in need of empathy, compassion and other types of help from facilitators, coaches or even therapists.
This chapter addresses how the principles of bureaucracy, values of the market and norms from psychology influence welfare encounters in practice. Bureaucratic principles and new public management (NPM) may affect the welfare areas of employment and health more than, for instance, the welfare area of social work. The dominant principles and norms of powerful actors constitute the doxa of a field and thus affect which diagnoses are perceived as meaningful and legitimate. Diagnoses and other categorisation tools create a new way of perceiving and understanding a person, which also defines the way in which welfare staff ought to respond. The professional backgrounds and habitus of the welfare staff cause them to employ certain social categories and diagnoses when trying to solve the problems of citizens. Stress and depression were diagnoses, which were often brought into play when talking about what it meant to be busy or ill.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed on the preceding chapters of this book. The book focuses on how welfare workers and citizens translate and implement the principles of the bureaucracy, the values of the market and the norms from psychology in everyday welfare work. It analysis the three levels of power at play including 2-D level, 3-D level and 4-D level in the welfare encounters. The book introduces the reader to symbolic interactionism, because the tradition within sociology makes it possible to examine how welfare workers and citizens co-produce dominant powerful norms in the welfare encounter. It aims to draw attention to the techniques of new public management (NPM), such as efficiency, standards and benchmarks, as well as market values, such as service and courtesy, and business values, such as competition, choice, flexibility and respect for the entrepreneurial spirit.