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Welfare State Regimes and Caseworkers’ Problem Explanation

Journal article
Authors Marie Östergaard Möller
Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta
Published in Administration & Society
Volume 51
Issue 9
Pages 1425-1454
ISSN 0095-3997
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1425-1454
Language en
Keywords street level bureaucrats, welfare state, Denmark, Sweden, social insurance policy, welfare state regime, frontline solidarity, role perception, problem explanation
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


In frontline bureaucracy research, the dominant view holds that frontline workers resist managerial pressure to “blame the poor” by bending the rules based on moral considerations, a practice labeled “citizen agency.” We suggest that frontline responses to managerial pressure are filtered through welfare state regime type. Based on in-depth study of caseworker reasoning in Sweden and Denmark, we find a “structural problem explanation” that sees reasons for clients seeking support as rooted in the structures of society—not in the individual client. We find and present two narratives hitherto not problematized in frontline bureaucracy research: the “statesperson” and the “professional.”

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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