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Organizing social work in public sector – a domain theory
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Abstract Social Work in Sweden is conducted largely in the context of policy-driven public organizations. It applies e.g. to social services, the health sector and schools. Such organizations are typically described and understood as "administrations", and they are often portrayed in organizational charts with varying sets of formal roles, positions and functions that are coordinated to achieve the administration's goals. This traditional understanding of organizations for social work is in fact very limited: 1) it is static in that it is about structure rather than process, 2) the political level is involved to a small extent, 3) the professional component is diffuse, and 4) the impact from the outside world is often not considered at all. It is logical from this perspective that social workers, when they enter into this type of organization, risk to be merged in their role and position in the administration, that they will be "handlers of cases" rather than independent professional practitioners.

The central element of the discussion is the relationship between politics, administration and profession, which in turn develops into a domain theory for the organization of social work. We note that these public arenas for social work are constituted of three domains with different functions and logics, yet interconnected and interdependent: the policy domain, the administration domain and the profession's domain. The single local organizations – constituted of these domains with their respective logics – are in turn conditioned by a fourth domain: the domain of institutional conditions. This latter domain is about control ideals, norms, views of knowledge and technologies that exist in society, legitimized and disseminated by central institutions, and that govern in important respects how the single local  organizations work. The purpose is to contribute to the development of a domain theory for the organization of social work in the public sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
, Stefan Moren
Keyword [en]
Professional practice, social workers, politics, administration, domain theory
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-67659OAI: diva2:613027
The 3rd European Conference for Social Work Research, 20-22 March 2013, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Available from: 2013-03-26 Created: 2013-03-26 Last updated: 2013-06-03Bibliographically approved

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