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Diversity as the Condition of Democracy: Reflective versus conformal action in National Social Services in Sweden
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0535-7773
2015 (English)In: Re-visioning social work with individuals, collectives and communities: social work research: Program Book & Book of Abstracts / [ed] Darja Zaviršek, Gašper Krstulović, Ana Sobočan, Jelka Zorn, Martina Kerec, Petra Videmšek, Romana Zidar, Ljubljana: Fakulteta za socialno delo , 2015, 252-252 p.Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The debate about societal integration and equality in connection with migration has been vivacious in a Swedish context for several decades now. An interesting research question in this context is how the Swedish society confronts the democratic challenge of finding ways to societal integration in times of rapid globalization and social change. In a case study of National Social Services in Sweden, I have studied how social workers within national social services understand and handle cultural diversity in their investigation and decision making involving children, young adults and their families. It becomes evident that the search for possibilities to societal integration has been abandoned for a system of societal monitoring and control, here expressed as conformal action. A deep conflict occurs between the social worker's communicative skills and an ever increasing, conformal bureaucracy. This conflict is understood as a conflict between the lifeworld and the system. Two important components in the argument are that integration demands communicative and reflective action in society and that The National Social Servicesi nstitutionalizes the representations of society as a whole. When treating the factors of the integration process it becomes clear that the social workers are handling an awkward paradox, seemingly impossible to dissolve. The paradox is activated in the intersection between the individual rights versus cultural and religious rights and it permeates every text guiding social work, from the Constitution over The Social Services Act to other governmental recommendations. Although the paradox cannot be dissolved it is evident that it could be mitigated through communication and reflective action. Nevertheless there is a rapid change in social services, away from communicative and reflective and action, towards conformal action. The theoretical concepts that are used as analytical tools in the study are derived from the thinking of Durkheim and Habermas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ljubljana: Fakulteta za socialno delo , 2015. 252-252 p.
Keyword [en]
Diversity, democracy, reflective action, conformal action, New Public Management. communication
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-58616ISBN: 978-961-6569-53-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-58616DiVA: diva2:1121022
Conference
5th European Conference for Social Work Research (ECSWR 2015), Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 22-24, 2015
Available from: 2017-07-07 Created: 2017-07-07 Last updated: 2017-07-31Bibliographically approved

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Diversity as the Condition of Democracy, p. 252

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