The History and Sociology of Welfare Work
The research group was established in 2014. Monthly meetings are held and here projects, publications and future project plans are discussed and developed. Also, seminars and workshops with invited speakers are arranged.
The History and Sociology of Welfare Work encompasses research in the sociology of professions, and it aims at expanding this area, and rendering it visible. Welfare work includes for instance social educational work, psychological work or police work, done by a number of welfare professions. Research on professions often studies one particular profession, e.g., nurses or social educators, and investigates the particular set of knowledge, skills and practices that characterises the relationship between that profession and the client/ citizen. We will use the sociology of professions to evolve comparative and historical studies of the many welfare professions. This entails studying welfare work both as a space of differences, and a coherent, institutionalized whole of professions possessing structural similarities.
Welfare Professions: Classification and Cross-Over 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. Thus, the research priority area, on the one hand, strives to identify ways of studying the inter-professional processes of boundary work and classification of the welfare work. On the other hand, the research priority area also strives to identify characteristics crossing the welfare professions, enabling an understanding of welfare professions as a whole in the changing orchestration and construction of welfare state community and citizenry.
The Welfare State – Gatekeeper of Normality
The welfare professions play a central part in the operationalization of social security in the welfare state. Moreover, they also play a vital role in the welfare state’s general economic approach, which combines strategies of growth, state planning and regulation. Fundamentally a welfare state intervenes in social life, actively trying to prevent or address social problems through social education in general, and by promoting health, and functional social relations in families and in society at large. In this perspective welfare work seeks to create practical sensible individuals, whom the state expects to use the knowledge provided by welfare professionals. Thus welfare states urge their citizens to conduct their own welfare according to the collective norms expressed through welfare work, practices and institutions. In other words, the social rights of the welfare state produce social and cultural categories of appropriate behaviour and conduct, and the professions serve as gatekeepers of normality.
The Welfare Professions Seen Through it’s Agents
The following question then arises: what social groups, engage in the struggle of occupying and performing welfare work? At different times, in relation to differing sets of clients, a plethora of such groups mobilize and partake in reshaping and reproducing boundaries of welfare state normality; this is expressed through welfare work and is to be investigated. Studies of the social history of welfare professions through its agents permit an understanding of the character, content, shape and boundaries of welfare work. Altogether this research priority area purports to understand how the welfare state is formed and transformed by the way in which professional agents are doing welfare work.
Conditions of existence for pupils who suffers from social anxiety
The project is carried out by PhD fellow Stine Saaby Bach, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen
The project deals with social anxiety among children and focuses on the social conditions they are offered at public schools. In this case I consider social anxiety as a social pathology. This means that the illness is not only individually but also partly caused by a number of social factors that makes certain mental illnesses common at a certain time. Public schools are seen as an important social arena where a certain normality is reflected. The school is therefore seen as a place for governmentality where pupils are molded to be part of a given society – and as a consequence of this, pupils who suffers from social anxiety risk to be marginalized in a normality that seems to be triggers for their illness.
This is examined by doing an analysis of social normality focusing on the specific demands posed to those individuals that the school produces and by analyzing how this is done through specific forms of pedagogy. Empirically the project is based on official documents describing which social skills are preferred and on interviews with teachers describing which methods they use to help the pupils in achieving these skills. Also, a biographic analysis is carried out. It centers on how pupils with social anxiety perceive life in school focusing on when, and how, social anxiety conflicts with the school’s environment.
Daycare Education In A Time Of Crisis
The project is carried out by PhD fellow Sofie Rosengaard
Through interviews with Danish preschool teachers and studies of Danish daycare law, this project aims to examine whether and how the state increases it's interventions in daycare pedagogy when society is considered to be in some sort of national crisis. Hence the project will be able to discuss if the daycare child is considered to be a citizen of the future rather than a child of today, and what this means.
The analysis sets off from three different historical time points and periods where remarkable changes in Danish daycare politics can be identified; 1945-1950, 1987-1993, 2010-2015. In the project, these periods are referred to as the rebuilding crisis, the modernisation crisis and the crisis of cultural values.
Analytically the project is based on Michel Foucault's notions regarding the regulation of population, state and power, and Stephen Ball's use of Foucault's governmentality term, combined with the ideas of banal nationalism and the nation as an imagined community by Michael Billig and Benedict Anderson.
The combination of the empirical methods, the choosing of the three points in time and the analytical notions will allow the project to take a closer look on the general education of the young child (0 to 6 years of age) in terms of citizenship and national identity. Through this, the project will be able to identify how politicians and preschool teachers define the role of the public daycare institutions in the nation state.
Teacher Work and Social Pedagogy
Lone Bæk Brønsted, PhD-student.
The purpose of the study is to describe and understand teacher’s social pedagogical knowledge and skills as practiced in a cross professional cooperation that has youth at risk as its focus. The study takes its starting point in an already existing cross professional cooperation working outside the school called “SSP”. SSP is a cross-sectional and locally anchored cooperation of the school (S), social service and health care (S) and the police (P) and it aims at creating a coordinated system of prevention, e.g. to prevent crime or school drop outs.
The project also aims to explore and develop how teachers’ participation in this cross professional cooperation may support the school’s work on inclusive learning environments.
The study is based on ethnomethodology and uses Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA) to study the methods people use for understanding and producing the social order in which they live. MCA takes its starting point in “authentic situations” and based on tape recordings and transcriptions of the recordings MCA attempts to derive the regularities of social and communicative behavior. Based on these research methods and with special notice on the analytical categories ”membership categories”, ”category-bound predicates” and ”membership categorization devices” the study attempts to understand how understandings of appropriate behavior are produced in this cross sectorial meeting.
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
The project is carried out by PhD fellow Marianne Brodersen, Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University. The project is granted means by the Independent Research Council in Denmark, Section of Humanities (FKK) 2015-2018.
What are the functions and significances of professional work in the welfare state? How does professional knowledge ‘work’ as a dynamic in the interface between state and citizens? And what characterizes the relations between professional knowledge, politics and state?
These are questions that lie behind the idea and purpose of this PhD-project. The project undertakes a case study of how different groups of professionals like teachers, preschool-teachers, psychologists and psychiatrists intervene into a specific “problem”, namely children who are regarded as disturbing in school. Furthermore the project examines how professional knowledge, as played out in this specific context, relates to logics in education and child politics, and how professional work is part of complex processes, through witch politics is being produced and realized. The project takes its point of departure in this main research question: How is the problem-complex “disturbing children in the school” being constructed and handled in and across professional and institutional contexts? And how can professional knowledge in relation to this problem be understood in relation to logics in politics and state?
The study builds on an ethnographic fieldwork in two schools combined with a document study. Theoretically it draws on traditions from educational studies rooted in sociology and cultural studies (Bourdieu, Bernstein, Willis) aiming at building new understandings of the social and cultural dynamics inherent in education and professional practices. The study combines such insights with sociology of professions and knowledge (Weber, Abbott) and theories of relations between professions, politics and state (Lipsky).
Welfare Work towards Children in Care
The project is carried out by PhD-fellow Stine Thygesen, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen
The main purpose of the project is to generate knowledge about welfare work regarding children in care – in relation to school. Unlike studies that are concerned with describing institutions and their way of working, this project is not focusing on school as an institution, but on schooling in a broader sense. In this project the schooling of children in care is considered as series of normative forms of interaction, that several actors are involved in, both within and outside the school. Conceptions of normality and deviance are continuously constructed and reconstructed in both formal and informal contexts of the children’s everyday school life. These normalization practices are the focus of this study.
The project is inspired by critical ethnography in educational research that shows how school - despite contrary efforts - create inclusion and exclusion through everyday judgements of legitimate and illegitimate behaviour. The characteristics of this research are that social issues at the macro level are related to patterns at the micro level to explain the systematic exclusion of e.g. children from the working class. Likewise, this project is a critical study of a specific group and their chances in the education system. Basically, children in care have life conditions that can be perceived as different. To understand how children in care are perceived as different, this project focuses on the normative processes that take place in different contexts in which teachers, social workers, and foster carers, encourage, praise, help and correct the child, or talk about the child.
The project is empirically based on an ethnographic fieldwork, where data primarily will be collected through observations. The fieldwork will be carried out from September 2017 and follows five foster children in and around their everyday school life.
Welfare work with failed asylum-seeking families and children
The project is carried out by Karoline Kjer, MA-student in Education, University of Copenhagen
This project is concerned with welfare work with failed asylum-seeking families and children at Danish deportation centers. The function of deportation centers is for a shorter or longer period to shelter persons whose asylum application has been rejected until the deportation can be effectuated. This master’s thesis studies which understandings and interests are at play in the welfare work with failed asylum-seeking families and children at Danish deportation centers. This includes how welfare workers understand the failed families and children at the centers, how they view the welfare work it is possible to carry out at the centers with regards to this group of people, as well as the political, economic and organizational conditions for this work.
Welfare work with ‘immigrant and refugee women’ – a study of the dynamics and relations of welfare work
The project is carried out by Vanessa Paladino, MA-student in Education, University of Copenhagen.
This master’s thesis explores the forms of knowledge and practises, dynamics and relations, which characterizes welfare work with ‘immigrant and refugee women’. It is carried out by studying how welfare workers – such as nurses, social workers, pedagogues etc. – perceive themselves, the welfare work they perform, and the women their work is addressing. It will raise the following questions: How is ‘immigrant and refugee women’ identified and problematized? Which categorizations are effective? And which pedagogical interventions are put into practice? The theoretical and analytical framework guiding the project draws among others on the Canadian sociologist, Michéle Lamont and her concept of symbolic boundary work. It is moreover based on ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews with welfare workers.
Pupils’ communities and included pupils’ ways of being and becoming pupils and classmates after the act of inclusion
The project is carried out by PhD fellow Malene Kubstrup Nelausen, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen. The project is funded by the Danish Research Council for Independent Research: Culture and Communication (DFF/FKK)
The aim of the project is to characterize and examine pupil-formed communities in an inclusive school context and the project has a special focus on children’s perspectives on school life in inclusive education. The PhD-project takes its part of departure in an Act of Inclusion which was passed by the Danish Parliament in 2012. The act means that children with special needs (e.g., children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and autism) have to attend the common public school instead of special needs classes or special schools.
The project is based on an ethnographic inspired fieldwork in a public school and the focus is on children in two different school classes and their everyday life in the school, in the after school day care and in their spare time. The empirical material contains field notes, interviews with pupils, pupils’ drawings and photos taken by the pupils. The project applies a poststructuralist/social constructionist frame of reference and has an analytic focus on narratives and positioning.
The role of psychiatry in the schooling system in the welfare state (2017-2020)
This project is carried out by Associate Professor Bjørn Hamre, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen. The project has been supported by the Research fund at Aarhus University (AAUF).
The aim of this project is to contribute with a historical analysis of the importance of psychiatry in the differentiation process in the schooling system as well as in the Danish welfare state as a whole. Whereas a number of analyses have examined the historical significance of educational psychology in the sorting of students in schools, the function of child psychiatry and school psychiatry in the process is underexposed. The hypothesis of the project is that the emerging psychiatry and the foundation of the collaboration between professions around children considered problematic was of significant importance as a normalization power in the schooling system and in the welfare state. The project constructs the school as a field in which images of normality and deviation can be analyzed. Analytically, the differentiation processes of the schooling system and welfare state is constructed from a historical and poststructuralist position that draws on concepts such as biopolitics, discipline, security, governance and problematization.
Psychiatry's presence in the schooling system from the 1930s onwards can thus be analyzed in the form of interactions with other professionals of the school and the welfare state (teachers, school psychologists and social workers), as well as through the establishment of different types of institutionalization. These include counseling clinics, testing practices, school psychiatric consultancies and child psychiatric treatment departments at hospitals. In the constitution of collaborations between professionals and in the formation of the new institutional practices, psychiatry became important in the development of technologies addressing deviancy in the emerging welfare state.
The mindset of child psychiatry in Scandinavia in the 1940s onwards was influenced from psychoanalysis and the international mental hygienic movement. This influence problematized the assumptions of degeneration that characterized psychiatry at the beginning of the 20th century, and led to a more environmental-oriented interpretation of mental illness. This mindset developed in interaction within Danish and Nordic networks in which psychiatrists, educational psychologists and progressive educators were participating. Through the establishment of new professional collaborations, research practices and institutional contexts, new ideas of the individuality of the child developed and were transformed into new ways of handling, differentiating and institutionalizing deviation in schooling and in the construction of the welfare state's concept of normality.
In line with a poststructuralist view, the state can be analyzed as a power producing constructions of normality and discipline as well as constructions of deviation and security technologies to handle and prevent problems to arise. The function of psychiatry is analyzed as a discourse and field in the tension between mechanisms of discipline and security. The project includes a quantitative and qualitative analysis of psychiatry categorizations of pupils in the period 1950-1980, as well as how the categorizations relate to the problems of other professionals: teachers, psychologists and special aid teachers.
Methods and materials: methodologically the project draws on qualitative and quantitative document analysis of journals, policy documents and files from the City Archives of Aarhus and Copenhagen. These archives include materials concerning the establishment of school psychiatry as an institutional practice in the two municipalities. In addition, in the Copenhagen City Archives, 164 files on students referred to the school psychiatrist of the municipality in the period 1950-1983 are part of the analysis. These files include documents about the student from teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists and special aid teachers.
The analysis of the project will be communicated through publication in relevant Nordic and international journals like: Nordic Journal of Educational History, History of the Human Sciences and Paedagogica Historica.
Experienced coercion: experiences of self-determination, care and coercion by persons with intellectual disabilities in residential care
The project is conducted by anthropologist and PhD Stine Grønbæk Jensen, Section of Education, University of Copenhagen and historian and PhD Jesper Vaczy Kragh, CoRe, The Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen.
According to the Danish Constitution, the right to personal freedom is inviolable. For persons with intellectual disabilities, however, exceptions to this right have been enacted. In the early twentieth century, these exceptions were extensive, permitting measures such as enforced detention and compulsory treatment. Today, coercion can still be applied, but only to ensure care of persons with disabilities.
In this project, we investigate how coercion is experienced by persons with intellectual disabilities in residential services. Our study is based on historical sources and qualitative interviews.
The aim of this study is, on the one hand, to give persons with intellectual disabilities a voice in public debates on coercion and, on the other hand, to qualify ethical decisions among staff and lawmakers. Finally, the study contributes to methodological and theoretical developments of welfare work from the perspective of the citizens.
Interdisciplinarity, problem based learning and school management in public school practice
The project is conducted by Associate Professor Trine Øland during the period from 2019 to 2020
Quests for interdisciplinarity in school has been voiced throughout the 20th century. First as part of alternative movements such as New Education Fellowship that from the 1920s promoted child psychology, thematic work, and caring environments as opposed to the organization of school in separate subject areas. From 1960, pursuits for interdisciplinarity was institutionalized in Danish statutory instruments, in 1993 a project assignment was introduced in the statutory law for the Danish public school’s final exam, and in 2014, the idea of a flexible public school with a focus on learning management was launched as part of a new statute.
This project explores the practices that accompany the avowed ‘flexible school’ and ‘school without a timetable’ as it is enacted in relation to the concept problem based learning. Focus is on how such a school is produced by engaged agents through processes, situations and manifestations in the everyday life of the school. Using anthropological and postmodern perspectives, and post-Enlightenment thinking, the project will illuminate how educational welfare work creates and recreates school structure by means of coordinating activities. Simultaneously un-coordination and disorder are defined in this context. The project will disclose how ‘the gathering’, ‘passion and boredom’, and ‘sociability’ may be seen as analytical points around which school practice forms and transforms, and make up the child and the meaning of school.
Foundations for analyses are literature on school management, observations of problem based learning projects in third-fifth grade, and interviews with the team of adults involved.
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|
|Lone Bæk Brønsted||PhD student||+45 353-33002|
|Stine Thygesen||PhD student||+45 30 71 17 62|
|Stine Saaby Bach||PhD student||+45 353-34221|
|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.