Other project members
Anna-Maria Sarstrand Marekovic, Magnus Persson, Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson
The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)
1 Jan 2022–31 Dec 2025
Sociology (Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences)
More about the project
The purpose of this project is to understand the relation between discretion, principles, and programs in welfare professional decision-making. The background is research discussing how NPM, process maps, software support, and automated systems increases efficiency and uniformity, while decreasing the professionals’ discretion.
The project maps supporting and discretion-reducing principles (rules, instructions, and conventions) and programs (sequential chains of principles in routines, process maps and computer programs), by comparing four cases. Two concern case-handling resulting in approval/rejection: asylum applications at the Swedish Migration Agency, and debt restructuring at the Swedish Enforcement Authority. The other two concern the grading of individuals on a standardized scale: risk categorization in public dental care, and teachers' grading of pupils in the 9th grade. By comparing contexts with different degrees of regulation and standardization, we want to produce generalizable results, in contrast to studies focused on individual professions.
We perform institutional ethnography oriented towards decision-makers in formal organizations: how they create meaning in and handle support systems, regardless of whether these are documents or computer programs. We interview decision-makers within the four contexts and collect ethnographic data on how principles and programs are used, to understand their significance for work organization and the decision-making process.