• Karin Bleeg Flø
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
For the last twenty to thirty years New Public Management (NPM) has been considered the new paradigm of Public Administration and Management (PAM) reforming and modernizing the public sector. Now we are beginning to see the outlines of a new paradigm New Public Governance (NPG) to reform and modernize the welfare state once more. Reform has followed reform since Public Administration (PA) based on traditional bureaucracy was deemed old fashioned with its emphasis on rules, laws and regulations. Social work during the era of PA was said to make experts out of social workers applying their methods on citizens who thereby lost influence on their lives and problems. Reform followed reform during the late 1980s, thru the 1990s and into the new millennium turning the welfare state and its social work into case work under heavy management control. Unemployment and the global financial crisis made funding the welfare state difficult and the Danish government turned to the private sector for inspiration on managerial techniques and on how to make the welfare state profitable again. NPM seemed to be the solution with its emphasis on input and output control and evaluation and performance management and audit. The work fare state it has mockingly been called because of its emphasis on reciprocity in social work; no longer would the state support the lazy unemployed. Focus on cost management and the use of competition and contracts in delivery of social services has turned the citizens applying for social services into customers and has thus radically changed the relationship between social worker and citizen.
How do social work values coexist with NPM values? With the help of three concepts concerning the use of power this thesis analyzes the social worker during NPM. Governmentality, discourse and self-technologies are key words in this thesis. Michel Foucaults theories are applied in analyzing the relationship between social worker and citizen.
The thesis finds that social workers apply the same managerial techniques on the citizens as are applied on them and their work. Though critical of the circumstances under which they are expected to make transformation with the citizens they adopt the rhetoric of NPM. Voksen Udrednings Metoden (VUM) has been introduced into the field of the disabled adults and the thesis shows the influence an instrument like VUM has as it governs the relationship between social worker and citizen. Goals, plans, contracts, categories turn the modern social worker into an efficient agent of the welfare state. Focus is on how the citizens work with themselves and their selves and not on how society can work with itself to accommodate the variety of personalities and needs of its citizens. Focus is on the systems need for efficiency, evaluations and proof that the money spent on social services is money well spent.
Further the analysis shows that social workers perform a process of creating a certain subject of themselves during which they develop a discourse about how they develop new professional skills. Being a complex field several different discourses influence the self technologies of the social workers and create various opportunities for turning themselves into subjects of gouvernement in a cross press between a discourse of normality, case work and the economy of the welfare state. The self technology which the social workers apply to themselves rewrites their professional identity and makes it about professional development. Only a profession that knows how to develop and put to use knowledge to solve specific problems can claim to be meaningful. This explains why it is important for the social workers to talk about themselves in terms of professional development. The professional discourse that arises in the cross between discourses and gouvernement is about being a good colleague, about work being based on evidence, about quality and about developing new professional skills. These new professional skills regard making demands towards the delivery of social services and towards the participation of the client.
Publication date30 May 2014
Number of pages104
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 198338124