9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 The SocioCultural Formation of Professional Work Building I, Auditório 2

Governmental Control of Professional Work

This paper deals with the effects of creating a new system for quality assurance for residential care in the Norwegian child welfare service. From January 2004, what may be regarded as a new ?control regime? was established. Then the responsibility for and the control of child welfare institutions was transferred from the county authorities to five regional authorities which had been established by the Ministry for Children and Family Affairs.  In addition to running a set of governmental institutions, the regional authorities also are buying a number of places in private institutions. After January 2004 contracts between the child welfare authorities and private institutions should be established on the basis of competition, while previously they were established as bilateral agreements, often based on long-term co-operation. At the same time, all the institutions had to go through a quality evaluation process. A set of indicators were given by the Ministry and the regional authorities assess the institutions according to these indicators. In the paper we will focus on the implications for the professional social work in a context of quality assessment and competition. The main purpose is to examine to what extent formal quality indicators may grasp the vital aspects of daily life and professional work in residential care and to what extent the daily routines and professional judgements are influenced by the indicators. With reference to Abbot (1988), among others, we will analyse the position and the development of the social work?s jurisdiction in this new control regime.The discussion in the paper is based on empirical data from the project ?A control regime in transition?, supported by the Ministry for Children and Family Affairs.  The project work started at the end of 2004 and has been following the new control regime for a period of three and a half years. The data are collected by qualitative interviews and document analyses as well as by observation of negotiations between regional authorities and private actors.