User involvement has become an explicit goal within social service provision. Even so, the term remains ambiguous, and its implementation troublesome. Implementation theory lists a number of factors influencing bureaucratic behaviour; in this paper we investigate the ‘human factor’. Our ambition is to provide a framework for analysis of user influence in activation programmes that includes the individual characteristics of both service users and service providers. Building on theoretical insights from the literature on activation and agency, we develop a framework that distinguishes between two ideal types of service users: Pawns and Queens, and two types of service providers: care-oriented Carers and rule-oriented Clerks. This framework is then applied to identify key challenges for the interaction between users and caseworkers in two challenging situations: when service users express little or no agency and when they express agency that is incompatible with the overall goals of the programme. We find that Carers show pronounced reluctance to overrule the choices made by service users even when they have conflicting views – and tend to postpone decisions when they interact with Pawns. Clerks tend to overrule the decisions of Queens when they have conflicting views, and to make decisions on behalf of Pawns. The analysis draws on data collected from 126 qualitative interviews with service providers and participants in the Norwegian Introductory Programme for immigrants and a survey of 320 caseworkers.
Volume 44, Issue 02, April 2015, pp 235-254.
Djuve, Anne Britt and Hanne C. Kavli (2015): Facilitating User Influence in Activation Programs: When Carers and Clerks meet Pawns and Queens. Journal of Social Policy, Volume 44, Issue 02, April 2015, pp 235-254