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Navigating Digitized Public Encounters: Transforming Social Work in Swedish Welfare Services

EasyChair Preprint no. 13505

21 pagesDate: May 31, 2024


This paper investigates social workers' perceptions of their relationships with clients across three Swedish different municipalities. By selecting three municipalities at varying stages of digitalization, the study highlights differences in the descriptions of the relationship between social workers and clients, shedding light on whether, and if so, how, digital tools influence this relationship.

The decision to focus on the relationship in the study is based on previous research indicating that the relationship between the social worker and the client is central to clients´access to welfare services and the provision of public support. Consequently, the study serves as a basis for discussing whether and how clients' access to financial assistance changes with the introduction of digital tools and whether there is a risk of digital exclusion.

The results of the study indicate that the division of labor resulting from digitalization can lead to increased distance between social workers and clients, and that digitalization entails a rhetoric suggesting that more responsibility should be placed on individual citizens. This may result in increased responsibility for individual clients to manage their own cases in relation to the authorities, potentially impairing clients' access to welfare services. However, this may not necessarily be the case. The study's results also show that social workers and financial administrators largely view digital tools as a complement, expanding accessibility, and that awareness of the risks of digital exclusion fosters sensitivity to whether clients need support. In other words, the study demonstrates how social workers and/or financial administrators work to compensate for the shortcomings of technology.

Keyphrases: Client relation, Digitalization, Professional contribution, social service

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Julia Carlsson and Teres Hjärpe and Petra Svensson},
  title = {Navigating Digitized Public Encounters: Transforming Social Work in Swedish Welfare Services},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 13505},

  year = {EasyChair, 2024}}
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