CALL FOR PAPERS to thematic issue: Welfare professions in transition (November 2015)
Welfare professions constitute one of the backbones in the development of the Nordic welfare states, and accordingly vocational commitment and professional ethos play an important role in this sector. Work in this sector is however dramatically changing. For the last 20 years the theme of New Public Management (NPM) has been pivotal in research and debates on working life in the public sector. As Clarke and Newman (1997) point out, NPM in many ways challenge the professionals, their expertise, their ethos and identity. The consequences of this development have been discussed taking departure in e.g. the focus on user orientation, free choice, standardization, managerialism and marketization that result from NPM.
In many respects NPM still seems to be going strong, having a large impact on the work and professional identity of the employees within the welfare sector. Simultaneously however other developments occur – interacting with and perhaps in some cases counteracting the principles of NPM. Part of the picture of the changing Nordic welfare sectors in the last decade, is large scale reforms induced by politicians attempting to integrate different types of welfare work and facilitate cross functional cooperation. Further, examples of so called social entrepreneurship, focus on technological innovations in service provisions is increasing. Altogether, this variety of more or less independent traits of development creates an impression of an increasingly complex context for work that the employees have to deal with, combine or prioritize between, as part of their daily working life.
We invite contributions that seek to develop the study of working life in welfare professions empirically and theoretically – studying both the continuities and changes in the work of welfare professions for a thematic issue of Nordic Working Life Studies.
Contributions might focus on some of the following developments and questions:
- The increased focus on empowerment and self-management of the citizens, as we see e.g. in the health social and educational sector. How does this change work, expertise and professional identity of the professionals?
- The increased use of volunteers in welfare services, and the simultaneous effort to develop institutions based on social entrepreneurship. What happens in the interplay between volunteers and professionals in these hybrid organizations?
- The increasing focus on innovation in welfare services, e.g. welfare technologies, employee driven innovation and social innovation. How do professionals work with, participate in and become affected by these innovation initiatives? Do they represent new possibilities for improving working life?
- Quality and evidence-based professional practice. How are professionals affected by initiatives to ensure quality and the use of evidence-based methods and knowledge in the public sector? And how do they participate in this agenda?
- How do welfare professionals and their managers deal with the whole of this increasing variety of expectations and impulses in the immediate surroundings of their work situations, produced by increasing institutional, administrative and stakeholder –complexity?
Deadline for submission of full papers is April 15. 2015.
Annette Kamp & Lars Klemsdal
Clarke, J & J Newman (1997). The Managerial State. London, Sage.