Mätning och motstånd : Sifferstyrning i socialtjänstens vardag
Measuremant and resistance : Governing social workers by numbers
Summary, in English
Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in several Swedish municipalities, with a focus on child welfare investigations and assistance assessments for elderly, sick and disabled citizens. The dissertation is based on data from participant observations, “shadowing”, interviews, photographs and documents. Theoretically, the analysis primarily builds on an interactionist, sociology of knowledge approach. In addition, inspiration comes from governmentality and “governing by numbers”- theory and studies of stat-activist (i.e. resistance by numbers) and pragmatic resistance.
Selected cases of number-based governance are analysed in four empirical chapters: Clock-time governance of child welfare investigations; governing by comparing care managers performance; governing by controlling the measurable and making what has been made invisible visible.
This study provides a concrete empirical illustration of metric cultures emerging in the social services. The emergence of those metric cultures stems from the tension between governing-by-numbers initiatives “from above” and the way in which the social workers “from below” also use quantification for resistance and counter purposes. The study shows that on the one hand number-based directives in many ways help and give social workers "clear" guidelines in the context of busy work schedules. Additionally, metrics serve as important ammunition when social workers negotiate and demand resources, and monitor their workload. On the other hand, it is shown that the governing-by-numbers initiatives have led to new ways for social workers to understand and talk about their tasks. In managements’ supervision of the social workers, and arguably also in client meetings, the numbers offer a neutral and objective language distancing the message from the sender, and excluding knowledge perceived as subjective. New dilemmas follow, as well as increased control over the social workers by management, new and time-consuming administrative work and an attention shift from clients to measurable achievements.
- Professioner och organisering
Lund Dissertations in Social Work
- Social Work
- sociology of quantification
- metric cultures
- social services
- social workers
- governing by numbers
- resistance by numbers
- Katarina Jacobsson
- Elizabeth Martinell Barfoed
- ISSN: 1650-3872
- ISBN: 978-91-89604-64-3
31 januari 2020
Socialhögskolans auditorium, Allhelgona kyrkogata 8, Lund
- Jonna Bornemark (Professor)