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Negotiating and Justifying Social Services’ Support for Female Victims of Domestic Violence
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5982-6411
2016 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The social services in Sweden have become key actors in the field of support for female victims of domestic violence. However, knowledge about what kind of support the social services offer is underdeveloped. The aim of this article is to examine social workers’ perceptions of the needs they meet among female victims of domestic violence, what kind of support they offer to meet these needs, and how they use their discretion to negotiate and justify their work. The article builds on a qualitative analysis of interviews with social workers. The analysis shows that the social workers have a great deal of discretion, as a result of framework legislation and a high status among local politicians and managers. However, both specialization and a lack of available services limit their discretion. What an abused woman is offered or is entitled to is negotiated and justified depending on, for example, which services are available, whether the woman is considered to have own resources (not only financial but also emotional and practical), and if the social worker is available. Three main strategies for reducing workload are identified: increasing demands for authority decisions, transferring responsibility to others, and placing requirements on the abused women’s actions and attitudes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2016.
Keyword [en]
social services, domestic violence, IPV, discretion, street-level bureaucrats
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-128995DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2016.1203813OAI: diva2:934054
Available from: 2016-06-08 Created: 2016-06-08 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Det besvärliga våldet: Socialtjänstens stöd till kvinnor som utsatts för våld i nära relationer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Det besvärliga våldet: Socialtjänstens stöd till kvinnor som utsatts för våld i nära relationer
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The troublesome Violence : The Social Services’ Support for Female Victims of Domestic Violence
Abstract [sv]

I avhandlingen analyseras hur våldsutsatta kvinnors behov tolkas, omförhandlas och anpassas för att kunna hanteras inom socialtjänstens organisation. Avhandlingens övergripande frågeställningar fokuserar på insatser och behov, betydelsen av socialtjänstens organisering och betydelsen av socialarbetarnas handlingsutrymme. Avhandlingen baseras på kvalitativa analyser av statliga propositioner, intervjuer med socialarbetare och med kvinnor som varit utsatta för våld i nära relationer. Det teoretiska ramverket bygger bland annat på Frasers (1989) teoretiska perspektiv som tar sin utgångspunkt i samhällets tolkningar av människors/gruppers behov av stöd, nyinstitutionell teori och teorier om gatubyråkrater. Avhandlingen visar att socialarbetares tolkningar är centrala aspekter av förhandlingen om hur våldsutsatta kvinnors behov och rätt till stöd ska förstås. Ett viktigt resultat i avhandlingen är att stödet till våldsutsatta kvinnor blir så pass olika. Avhandlingen ger inga svar i kvantitativa termer på hur olikheten är fördelad, men den ger exempel på hur olikheten tar sig uttryck. I kommuner där specialiseringen innebär att socialarbetarna på socialkontoret i första hand utreder behov och fattar beslut om insatser, måste det också finnas adekvata insatser att besluta om. Saknas det så erbjuds inte heller något stöd. Stödet till kvinnor som utsatts för våld i nära relationer blir också olika eftersom socialarbetare ställer olika krav eller sätter upp olika trösklar för att kvinnor ska få stöd. Avhandlingen visar att både gemensam kunskap och gemensam syn på sociala problem är centralt för att samarbetet inom den specialiserade socialtjänstens ska fungera och i längden också för vilket stöd människor kommer att erbjudas.

Abstract [en]

This thesis analyses how the needs of abused women are interpreted, renegotiated and adapted for handling within the social services. The overarching research questions concern support and needs, the significance of the social services organisation, and the role of social workers’ own discretion. The material consists of qualitative analyses of government bills, and interviews with social workers as well as with female victims of domestic violence. The theoretical framework includes Fraser's (1989) perspective on society's interpretations of people/groups in need of support, neo-institutional theory and the theory of street level bureaucracy. The thesis shows that social workers’ interpretations are central for how abused women's needs and their right to support will be understood. An important result is the wide variation in the kinds of support offered, deriving from the fact that there appears to be no uniform approach across the municipal social services; social workers in the different offices set up different requirements/thresholds for women to receive support. No answers are given in quantitative terms of how this diversity is distributed, but examples are presented to illustrate the range manifested. In  municipalities where specialisation means that the social workers primarily investigate needs and make formal decisions about measures to be taken, there must also be adequate interventions in place to decide upon and distribute. The thesis shows that both mutual knowledge and mutual understanding of social problems are central for the cooperation within in the specialised social services and ultimately for what kind of support people will be offered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. 134 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 689
Social work, social services, domestic violence, need interpretations, street-level bureaucrats., Socialtjänst, våld i nära relationer, gatubyråkrater, behovstolkningar
National Category
Social Work Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-130941 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-130941 (DOI)9789176857236 (Print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-10-14, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Norrköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-09-01 Created: 2016-08-31 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically approved

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