Most welfare work takes place in organisations which resemble or have
traits from bureaucracies. The principles and norms of bureaucracies
are an important context for welfare work and have therefore resulted in
the production of a great amount of scholarly work by political scientists
and sociologists on how bureaucratic rules, procedures and principles
affect the encounter between welfare workers and citizens.1 A dominant
approach within this literature is to examine how welfare workers resolve
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.
Inspired by Robert Dahl, this chapter concerns the agency and causal dimension of power, whereby A makes B do something they would not otherwise do. Violence, coercion, authority and economic resources are analyzed. It is argued that coercive and authority-based exercises of power are fundamentally different, both sociologically and normatively. Authority power is positive-sum, while coercive power tends to be zero-sum. In this respect, as argued by Stewart Clegg, it is important to distinguish between ‘episodic’ and ‘dispositional’ power. Power-over does not equate to domination, as many exercises of power-over authority confer dispositional power to the less powerful. Such power relations are positive-sum, thus normatively legitimate. The concept of authority is expanded from hierarchical bureaucratic contexts, to include everyday authority, which citizens have most of the time, referred to as citizen’s authority.
Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.
powerful, as it – despite its softer nature – both frames and
governs the welfare encounter.
The analysis of the book has found three levels of power at play in these
encounters. At a 2-D level, we have a bureaucraticcontext which merits
certain rules and procedures. At a 3-D level, we have the interpretive horizon of the social actors who perceive a taken-for-granted reality or natural order of things. At a 4-D level, we have social subjects whose actions
reflect the rules of the bureaucracy, as well as the values of the market and
norms from psychology. For instance
1993) predict that institutions shape the behaviour of actors and the
use of policy tools. The key variables are the bureaucraticcontext and
government’s capacity to deal with distributional conﬂict.
• In the original approach (see the historical overview provided by the
OECD, 1997a, 1997b), the tools of better regulation were supposed to
work in a rational, orderly policy process where problems are deﬁned,
alternative solutions are probed and decisions are ﬁnally taken by unitary
actors. However, theories of the policy process (Sabatier, 1999) provide a
the present introduction – extracts from state-of-the-art
research on professions and expertise (Chapter 2), the perception of power
that guides the analyses (Chapter 3) and the overall theoretical positioning when analysing encounters between welfare workers and citizens as
co-productive and interactionist (Chapter 4).
Part II presents a number of analyses that can be organised in accordance with three sets of principles and norms which impact the encounters between welfare workers and citizens today: firstly, analyses that
show how a bureaucraticcontext affects
This meant that only few occupations in his study were able to achieve
professional status and authority. For this reason, he concluded (in 1964)
that future occupational groups would need to combine elements from
both their professional background and the principles of the organisation
(the bureaucraticcontext); the professional would, in other words, have
to combine a professional and non-professional orientation to his or her
work. Therefore, if the significant aspect for understanding the encounter
between welfare workers and citizens is not
boxes of the social system): a person cannot be unable to work and eligible for sickness benefits due to existential (social) problems. However, if the
problem of a citizen was defined by a biomedical diagnosis (the ‘depression’
box), then the person had a valid reason for taking sick leave – and, not to
forget, receive sickness benefits.
This case on depression and stress has revealed how 2-D, 3-D and 4-D
powers – or Hall’s (1997) larger environment – affect the encounter between
citizens and welfare workers. The bureaucraticcontext
Interactional context: perceptions by colleagues and their response to
In a context where individuals have multiple identities, the question arises as to
which of these are activated in a particular context. Thus, in a bureaucraticcontext, where ascriptive characteristics such as gender are theoretically irrelevant,
whether gender is visible/invisible provides an indication of its (differential)
significance and positive/negative valence in the interactional context of senior
management. Awareness of others’ perception of ourselves is an