Encounters between welfare professionals and citizens
- Start date: 1 July 2021
- End date: 1 January 2023
- Primary investigator: Professor Hilary Sommerlad
This study forms part of a wider research project (FRAMLAW) concerned with the regulation of marginalised citizens’ access to social rights in the context of the Danish welfare state. Anchored in the discipline of the sociology of law, FRAMLAW reflects on the character of welfare law and social rights, the transformation of the welfare state, encounters between citizens and welfare professionals, and citizens’ ability to mobilise social rights.
The principal investigators - Ole Hammerslev (University of Lund) and Stine Piilgaard Porner Nielsen (University of Southern Denmark) – have brought together a team of international specialists who will contribute to an anthology: European Welfare Rights in Practice: Regulation, Professionals, and Citizens.
My contribution focuses on the changing nature of interactions between welfare professionals and citizens, and specifically their categorisation and negotiation of social problems and possible solutions, over the course of the last 30 years.
My analysis is informed by a series of qualitative studies into legal aid lawyers and Not for Profit (NFP) advisers in England and Wales, conducted from the mid 1990s through to the current day, and reflects on how macro- and meso-level developments have eroded social citizenship and its underpinning rights and shaped welfare professionals’ capacity to serve clients’ needs.
The wider context for the research is the contemporary crisis in the justice system, and I engage with this through the current study which involves qualitative research interviews with 15 practitioners working in the field of welfare law, being conducted by the principal investigator.
I will be presenting a draft of the chapter including the initial findings from the current research interviews in a two-days’ workshop in Odense at the University of Southern Denmark, SDU, on the 25th-26th January 2023.
I will also be addressing the ethical implications of the erosion of social justice in a presentation to the Australian Legal Ethics Meeting (ANZLEC 7), University Southern Queensland, July 2023.
Publications and outputs
The study will be written up as a chapter for an international anthology: European Welfare Rights in Practice: Regulation, Professionals, and Citizens which will be published in 2023.