The Long Gone Promises of Social Work. Ambivalence and Individualisation in a Social Services Administration

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    The article analyses one case: a sickness benefit office in a social services department. It takes as a starting point that organisations function as projection surfaces for fantasies, emotions and reactions. The psycho-societal perspective clarifies how a social services department transfers a crucial dilemma in social work onto social workers by processes of individualising. The dilemma relates to the disparity between clients' complex life situations and the limited possibilities for social workers to resolve them. There is an ambiguity in this transference. In cases of failure, management seeks explanations not by looking at possible organisational or societal restrictions or explanations, but rather at the social workers' personal and professional life histories—they are subjected to a life historic individualisation and stigmatisation.1 Social workers, on the other hand, display ambivalence towards influencing case administrative work, which can be interpreted as an adequate defence mechanism. The article then introduces the concept of individualisation that reflects the dialectic processes of subjectivity and objectivity and leads to a contextualised analysis of social work.
    Translated title of the contributionDe fortabte håb i det sociale arbejde: Ambivalens og individuering i en socialforvaltning
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalIUC Journal of Social Work - Theory and Practice
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)73-86
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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