Welfare for citizens with complex problems

How do welfare services manage citizens with complex problems such as addiction to drugs or alcohol, mental illness and unemployment.

Aims

This project investigates the management of citizens, who at the same time are enrolled in drug treatment, psychiatric services and receive social security unemployment benefits.  The project focuses on the relations between a range of overlapping and, and at times, conflicting policies, diverse services, local frameworks and professional values needed to accommodate the complex problems of citizens. In doing so, the project aims to contribute new knowledge about how and why cases of such citizens are managed the way they are.

Background

The majority of Danish citizens obtain different welfare services such as child care services or somatic and psychiatric health care services without experiencing bureaucratic complications. However, some citizens experience a range of overlapping and even conflicting services resulting from the fact that they require a variety of services simultaneously. Drug treatment, mental illness and unemployment necessitate different types of services, each with different administrative tools and professional approaches to help and create organizational set-ups. These services are also framed by different types of policies, such as National acts and guidelines, and organizational strategies, that articulate different ideas about how to assist a person in need of help. Taken together, these components constitute a complex web of welfare policies and practices, where citizens and professionals are entangled in complex web of overlapping and potentially conflicting ways of managing cases. By identifying different rationales in policies and the social practices of professionals, we analyse how complex cases are, nevertheless, made to work in day-to-day bureaucratic practices taking place at the street level.

The study

The project consists of the three parts:

  1. Analysis of documents (legislation, guidelines, strategies), which frame the services provided to citizens with complex problems.
  2. Observations within services targeting marginalized citizens as well as interviews with professionals and users of these services.
  3. An investigation of how citizens with complex problems and means to help them are represented by professionals in the records used in the three types of welfare systems.

Duration: June 1st 2015 – July 1st 2018.

Funding

The project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark