The History and Sociology of Welfare Work
The purpose of ‘The History and Sociology of Welfare Work’ research group is to expand Section of Education’s research in the sociology of professions and render it visible. Welfare work includes for instance social educational work, psychological work or police work concerned with developing and optimising population groups’ chances to fare well in society. Research on professions often studies one particular profession, e.g., the profession of nurses or social educators, and its particular foundation of knowledge and the practice activated when working with the citizen. We will use the sociology of professions to evolve relational and historical studies of the constitutive and dynamic aspects of welfare work. This entails studying welfare work as social relations, and as a structural whole of welfare professions related to governmental and societal processes loaded with power.
The research group was established in 2014 and consists of researchers from Section of Education and a number of external members. Monthly meetings are held, and here projects, publications and future project plans are discussed and developed. Also, seminars and workshops with invited speakers are organised.
Welfare Professions: Defining and Crossing Characteristics
The medical profession’s success in disseminating the medical paradigm to other professions exemplifies a form of institutional learning which includes several welfare professions, and in turn, they acquire an institutional logic and inertia. On the one hand, the research group will strive to identify ways of studying the processes of boundary work and the classifications of welfare work across and between professional identities. On the other hand, the research group strives to identify characteristics crossing the welfare professions, enabling an understanding of the role played by welfare professions and welfare work in the changing orchestration and construction of welfare state community and citizenry.
The Relations of Welfare Work and The Welfare State’s Normality
The welfare professions play a vital role in the operationalization of social security in the welfare state and in the welfare state’s general economic approach. Fundamentally, a welfare state intervenes in social life, actively trying to prevent or address social problems by promoting the development of healthy and able citizens, and functional social relations in families and society. Accordingly, welfare work, through relations to the citizen, seeks to create practical sensible individuals, whom the state expects to use the knowledge provided by welfare professionals. Thus, the research group investigates the social relations of welfare work, and the social and cultural categories for appropriate behavior and conduct that is intertwined with the social rights of the welfare state and thus the normality that welfare work, marked and unmarked, help in gatekeeping.
Welfare Work’s Conditions and Effects
The research group also explores questions concerning which social groups engage in and are mobilised to perform welfare work in relation to differing target groups, thus partaking in reshaping and reproducing boundaries of welfare state normality. Investigations of welfare workers’ social history permit an understanding of the content, shape and boundaries of welfare work as it is conditioned by the social agents who carries out the welfare state and its (trans-)formations. Finally, the research group examines the social effects of welfare work as welfare work also (re-)produces social groups and relations of super- and subordination.
The “disturbing” child as field of intervention for professionals in and around the school. A study of the dynamics of professional knowledge between pupils, professionals and state
Project duration: 2015-2018
PI: Marianne Brodersen
Welfare work with failed asylum-seeking families and children
PI: Karoline Kjer
Welfare work with ‘immigrant and refugee women’ – a study of the dynamics and relations of welfare work
PI: Vanessa Paladino
Pupils’ communities and included pupils’ ways of being and becoming pupils and classmates after the act of inclusion
Project duration: 2016-2019
PI: Malene Kubstrub Nelausen
Experienced coercion: experiences of self-determination, care and coercion by persons with intellectual disabilities in residential care
PI: Stine Grønbæk Jensen
The Field of Welfare Work Addressing “the Immigrant” Since 1970 – Symbolic Boundary Work and the Making of Society
This project is carried out by Trine Øland, associate professor in educational research at University of Copenhagen; Anne Sofie Trangeled Larsen, student research assistant majoring in education and sociology at University of Copenhagen; and Louise Krogsgaard Nielsen, student research assistant majoring in sociology at Aalborg University .
The project is a sub-project in a collective research project: Professional interventions as a state-crafting grammar addressing ”the immigrant” granted means from the Independent Research Council in Denmark: Section of Humanities (Culture and Communication) 2013-2016.
The main objective of this project is to clarify and understand the way in which different groups of welfare state professionals act, assess and facilitate processes around “the immigrant” on behalf of the public interest since 1970 in Denmark. The research question guiding the project is: What characterises the variety of welfare work and welfare state professionals engaged in interventions targeting “the immigrant” since 1970, and what activities, technologies, viewpoints, missions, judgements and justifications do these professionals promote when categorising both professional welfare work and “the immigrant”?
The project is a sociological interview study of the competing and conflating professionals’ welfare work vis-à-vis “the immigrant” since 1970, and it is based on the notion of a two-fold dynamic: on the one hand professional interventions and their transformation feed into the transformation of the state, and on the other hand the transformation of state logic and practice feeds into the transformation of professional interventions. “Professionals” are understood as an empirical category: those who appear knowledgeable, competent and entrusted to manage “the immigrant” on behalf of the public interest; those who wants to improve the situation with “the immigrant” using practices, categories, assumptions and forms of knowledge – whether they call it to integrate, enlighten, treat, teach, mobilise, care for or discipline.
48 professionals are interviewed ‘qualitatively’ and have answered a structured interview questionnaire. The interviewees are divided between teachers, psychologists, social workers, police officers, preschool teachers, doctors, psychiatrics, nurses, health visitors, job consultants, teachers in adult education, and different so called street level workers and advisors as regards “youth”, “parenting” and “integration”. In total, the interviewees cover a variety on profession, active period/age, institutional anchorage (ranging from small-scale NGO-projects to well established and broadly-based institutions such as a hospital or a school), and geographical location/place of the institution.
The project’s main analytical focus is a focus on the symbolic boundary work of the professionals as regards both the definition of professional welfare work and ”the immigrant”, thus capturing the way in which professionals symbolically participates in (re)identifying and (re)problematizising “the immigrant” due to the inner logic of professional work, where worries and problem identification are considered prerequisites for interventions. The symbolic boundary approach draws on Michèle Lamont’s work and it serves an interest in parallels of boundary configurations across professions, and in the symbolic boundaries’ relationship with group structures: principles of classification and identification. The symbolic boundaries are considered significant in the making and remaking of social solidarity and difference, equality and inequality, societal participation and social suffering.
The project’s secondary analytical focus is a focus on the individuals’ (the professionals´) classified social and symbolic properties in a social space approach. This focus draws on a Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological hypothesis of structural homology between a structure of position-takings (preferences, views) and a social class structure. This focus applies a multidimensional theory of social space and group-making through symbolic classification struggles as a thinking tool in the construction of properties, i.e. power or capital, which are considered possible active forces within the social space in question. Here, the phrase “welfare work addressing the immigrant” refers to a broad spectrum of professionals engaged in the symbolic struggle for the definition of welfare work addressing “the immigrant”. Thus, a “welfare worker addressing the immigrant” is an individual who, energised by dispositions (habitus), displays a specific “taste” for this work and employs specific categories, assumptions, practices, methods and techniques, and scientific arguments.
Between memory and expectation. Student teachers Biographic narratives as meaning making, difference and educational motivation
The project is carried out by research assistant Tine Brøndum, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen
The project is a recently finished PhD project. Currently it forms the basis for related research articles and development of a new research project proposal. This will take its point of departure in related theories and methods and addresses educational policies aimed at refugees in Denmark.
When we give an account of ourselves, we draw on different elements, such as personal memories and experiences as well as the cultural norms that surround us. Hence, biographic narratives can be seen as a medium for our perception of the world and can show how prior experiences of the individual often inform current positions and expectations for the future.
From this outset the project examines the biographic narratives of a group of student teachers. A main interest in this is how the future teachers position themselves in relation to current dominant norms as well as minority and majority communities in society and at the educational colleges. Furthermore it examines how personal memories influence the student’s teacher identification and understanding of themselves. As a part of this, the project holds a special interest in the mandatory culture and citizenship subject at the Danish educational colleges (KLM) and addresses how the student teachers perception of this subject seem to vary in ways that relates to their personal life stores.
The project combines a critical narrative hermeneutic approach with post structuralist theories. As a part of this it addresses how different positions of subjectivation become available within certain educational cultures and approaches.
On course - production of former criminals in the Danish Prison and Probation Service
The project is carried out by PhD fellow Nanna Koch Hansen.
This Ph.D.-project concerns the transition period between imprisonment and release. The study builds on an ethnographic fieldwork (consisting of observations and interviews with inmates and staff) in two Danish halfway houses.
Typically, outside of Denmark, halfway houses are meant for former inmates, who have just been released from prison but are still being monitored by the Prison and Probation Service. In the Danish case, inmates can be transferred from prison in order to serve the final part of their sentences in a less restricted environment. This alternative sentencing is carried out through rationales of reducing negative effects of imprisonment and preventing recidivism. In case residents do not comply with the rules, they will lose their privileges and be transferred back to prison.
Theoretically the study draws on poststructuralist and social constructionist traditions, exploring analytical potentials in relation to a mixed empirical material consisting of observations and interviews. The research interest is directed towards relationships (of authority) and positioning among inmates and staff, as well as tales of imprisonment, prisonization, transition, release and recidivism.
- Karoline Kjer
PhD student Marianne Brodersen, Roskilde University
Sofie Rosengaard, BUPL
Trine Brøndum, Ministry of Education
Researchers from MCC
|Bjørn Frithiof Hamre||Associate professor||+45 353-36712|
|Malene Kubstrup Nelausen||PhD student||+45 353-36643|
|Stine Grønbæk Jensen||Postdoc||+45 353-33046|
|Stine Saaby Bach||PhD student||+45 353-34221|
|Stine Thygesen||PhD student||+45 30 71 17 62|
|Trine Øland||Associate professor||+45 353-28889|
PhD fellows and other researchers working within this field and having an interest in the research priority area’s activities are welcome to contact Trine Øland.