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Inspection of social services in Sweden: a comparative analysis of the use and adjustment of standards
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work. Örebro universitet.
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6594-5804
2016 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 6, no 2, 138-151 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Inspection has increasingly been regarded as a safeguard for promoting quality of social services. Little attention has, however, been given to the impact of standards used in inspections, i.e. the written norms, rules and principles used for identification and judgment. The aim of this study is to empirically contribute to an improved understanding of how standards in inspection of social service are designed, and to what extent the design is adjusted in relation to different kind of social services. We employ a systematic and comparative analysis of the content (in terms of input, process, output and outcome aspects) and precision (low, medium and high) of 186 paragraphs derived from legislation and referred to as standards in inspection decisions concerning two types of social work: Investigation, Assessment and Decision-Making (IAD); and Treatment Intervention (TI) in Sweden 2012. Contrary to expectations based on an inspection ideal, our findings show that paragraphs covering outcome aspects are not more commonly referred to as standards in TI than in IAD inspection. The analysis of the precision also indicates that the standards used in inspection of TI are not more adjusted to complex and subjectively experienced aspects than are the standards used in IAD. Our overall results indicate that the policy instrument is primarily adapted to IAD inspection rather than to TI inspection.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2016. Vol. 6, no 2, 138-151 p.
Keyword [en]
inspection, standard, social service, service technology
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Health and Welfare, Social tillsyn i retorik och praktik
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-20783DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2016.1156015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-20783DiVA: diva2:894424
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Note

Open Access APC beslut 3/2017

Available from: 2016-01-15 Created: 2016-01-15 Last updated: 2017-09-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Tillsyn i teori och praktik: om statlig styrning och kontroll av socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tillsyn i teori och praktik: om statlig styrning och kontroll av socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to deepen the understanding about the function of control in the inspection process and to increase the knowledge about the legitimacy and impact from inspection on different types of social and welfare services. In the thesis the form and legitimacy of the inspection process are studied in two types of social services in Sweden: a less complex service where the task to investigate and make decisions about social care dominates (IAD), and a more complex service where the task to provide treatment interventions dominates (TI). The data consists of policy documents, inspection reports, casefile documentation, and interviews with inspectors, politicians, managers and social workers. The inspection process is discussed in relation to theories about control systems and legitimacy processes. Inspection is a policy instrument whose standards are derived from legislations and where those subject to the inspection are obliged to meet the demands made by the inspectorates. This form of disciplinary control has been questioned given that its complexity makes it hard to regulate the practice of social work through detailed rules. By including a less disciplinary form of control the instrument’s ability to impact on more complex aspects of social services are expected to increase. The results show a difference in how the inspection process is set up in the two types of services. In the IAD services the process takes the form of a disciplinary control system, whereas the process in TI services initially takes the form of a non-disciplinary system. In spite of the differences observed in the initial stages of the process, the results show that the judgments of inspectors in both types of services are almost exclusively based on information about concrete and detailed aspects. This entails that the judgements of inspectors in both types of services mostly take the form of statements on simple observable and concrete conditions, whereas judgments about more complex aspects are rarely made. The study also shows that although the propriety and relevance of the inspectors’ judgements are questioned more in TI organisations inspections seem to have greater validity and impact on TI than on IAD organisations. The results of the thesis point to two explanations. One explanation is that the costs of dealing with the problems underlying the identified deficiencies are lower for TI than IAD organisations. This in turn leads to greater acceptance of carrying out the proposed measures in TI than in IAD organisations. Another possible explanation is that the potential sanctions are greater for TI than IAD organisations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2017. 93 p.
Keyword
Inspection, control, social services, standards, evaluation, judgment, legitimacy, adaption, impact
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Health and Welfare
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-25941 (URN)978-91-7529-196-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-16, Örebro universitet, Långhuset, Hörsal 2, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-09-01 Created: 2017-09-01 Last updated: 2017-09-01Bibliographically approved

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