Background: Systems for freedom of choice have been implemented as an organizational structure in public welfare in several western countries. The aim of the market model is to increase citizens’ freedom of choice, conduce diversification in service and providers of service, while contribute higher quality of service and facilitate efficient use of public funds. In Sweden “Act of Free Choice Systems” (2008:962) was introduced in 2009, and optional for municipalities to use. Several municipalities have opened up for both public and non-public providers for citizens’ to choose from in different welfare sectors. Mental health care was one of them. The implemented competitive market logic meant providers needed to promote themselves to attract users to be able to stay on the market.
Aim: The aim of this study is to describe and analyse how public and non-public providers’ of community mental health care use digital pictures during the time of an implementation of a competitive market system in Sweden.
Methods: A case study was conducted. A municipality was strategically selected because a free choice system was implemented in their community mental health care in 2010. Day centres, a common community mental health care support was selected to constitute the focus of the study. All providers had a digital space of their own at the municipality’s website. Digital pictures from each homepage were collected in 2012, when the new system had been running for a while. All pictures were included in the study. Pictures were transcribed using the semiotic model. Transcribed data was analysed with content analyse and categorized into themes. A frequency analysis was conducted to show similarities and differences in content.
Results: Homepages showed between 0 and 88 digital pictures. Public providers displayed less pictures than non-public providers. The content analyse identified three main categories: 1. Presenting pictures 2. Illustrative pictures 3. Emotional intermediating pictures. The frequency analyse showed three main recurring contents: pastries (10 providers), flowers and trees (10 providers) and the building’s exterior (9 providers). Distinguishing pictures were; mountain climber (one provider), dogs at the Coffey table (two providers).
Analyse/Discussion: Digital pictures seemed to fulfil different purposes; to present activities such as buildings and persons, to illustrate text and to convey feelings of growth, inclusion, participation and friendship. The most recurring picture content was interpreted as follows: pastries, as appealing to the sense of sweetness, something tasting good, homely, attractive; flowers and trees as appealing to growth, literal and symbolic; building’s exterior as representing the place physically. Mountain climber pictures were interpreted as appealing to adventure and excitement, dogs at the Coffey table as appealing to a wish for non-demanding fellowship, a wish for pets.
Conclusion: Most providers used digital pictures in their promotion of themselves. Pictures were used in different ways and with different intentions. Non-public providers displayed more pictures than public providers. This might implicate non-public providers were more adjusted to the new competitive system where promotion was part of the game.
Beyond the frame - the future of the visual in an age of digital diversity. Nordic Network for Digital Visuality (NNDV)