Sanktionerat motstånd : Brukarinflytande som fenomen och praktik

Sammanfattning: The roots of the idea of user involvement within social services can be found in the efforts of the rising service user movement in the 1960s and 70s. Today the concept of “service user involvement” has been adopted by the state and is widespread within political rhetoric’s as well as in human service practices. However, user involvement is known to be an imprecise phenomenon that can take on different meanings (cf. Cornwall 2008; Patterson et al. 2008), opening for potential conflicts between service users and organisation representatives concerning goals, intentions and activities. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how service user involvement is constructed within contemporary human service organisations, and how the construction is affected by, as well as affects, the prevailing power structures characterizing the relationship between service users and welfare workers (see Hasenfeld 2010). The study has an ethnographic and constructionist base. During three years I conducted fieldwork in two welfare organisations – a county based psychiatric hospital and a municipal social service administration – following such activities that the organisations defined as working with “service user involvement”. The concept of co-optation (Selznick 1949) is used to analyse how power structures and institutional logic within the welfare organisations are maintained as well as questioned through the everyday interactions taking place when service user involvement is carried out. At the same time as the institutionalized service user involvement control and constrain the way service user representatives act and pursue their goals, it gives them a possibility to challenge the welfare organisations from within. Hence, service user involvement can be understood as a “sanctioned resistance”. The study suggests that no radical change in power positions is achieved through the service user involvement. The influence that users have can commonly be understood as adjustments within a prevailing institutional logic, rather than changes that transform the organisations in a more profound way. Moreover, the surrounding socio-political context plays a vital role in determining what service user involvement becomes. What employees can do when it comes to meeting service users’ demands is conditioned by the overarching welfare politics and resource allocation.