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‘I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but …’: laypersons challenging the jurisdiction of professionals in Swedish child protection
University of Gothenburg.
University of Gothenburg.
University of Gothenburg. (Barn-och ungdomsforskning, ISAC)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5644-2455
2018 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 8, no 1, p. 50-63Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the early days of professionalism, occupations were characterised by decision-making freedoms and strong jurisdictional rights. Since then, several ways of controlling and monitoring professionals have been introduced alongside the rise and reformulations of the modern welfare state. Professions have been challenged by, bureaucracy, market solutions and demands for transparency. These are examples of systematically developed counterforces to professional autonomy. A much less studied way of controlling and monitoring professionals is the institution of laypersons, which finds its legitimacy on the grounds that non-experts play the superior role to professionals. Through layperson committees, Swedish child protection advocates have extensive rights when deciding upon some of the most intrusive decisions that the state can make against families, namely, whether children are to be removed from their parents. This article analyses how laypersons challenge the authority of professionals in Swedish child protection. It is based on observations of layperson committees and semi-structured interviews with committee members. The results show that the jurisdictional boundaries are constructed in relation to groupthink, where the laypersons can be the cure for social workers developing unprofessional behaviours and remain as outsiders to the professionals. Another important finding of the study is the ambivalence and paradoxes that arise when it comes to understanding the layperson’s role in relation to at least five topics: formal training; identity as a professional, theoretical knowledge; the normative field laypersons should relate to; and the layperson’s impact. The ambivalence of the ideological boundaries can be seen as a weakness for the layperson.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018. Vol. 8, no 1, p. 50-63
Keywords [sv]
Social work, Child protection, Sweden, Laypersons, Sociology of professions
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-70683DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2017.1376703OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-70683DiVA, id: diva2:1193868
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2010:0821Available from: 2018-03-28 Created: 2018-03-28 Last updated: 2018-03-28Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
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