Valuation in Welfare Markets : The Rule Books, Whiteboards and Swivel Chairs of Care Choice Reform

Sammanfattning: This thesis takes an interest in how values attain a specific meaning in market reforms of welfare provision. The study builds on exploring how values are enacted rather than treating them as universal and stable. The aim of the thesis is to contribute conceptually to the understanding of how market-making activities in the welfare state bureaucracy handle the values at play in welfare reform.The empirical case is the governance of a so-called care choice system in a Swedish county council. The methodology for the study is “shadowing” of public officials working to formulate a so-called rulebook for care centres. The analysis describes how these officials handle a variety of values when designing the rulebook. How they choose to organize their work – the methods used to collect data about care centre performance, what governance tools they employ, how they arrange their work roles, and how they construct the rulebook – leads to value shifts and determines the meaning of values in practice.The officials’ work practice is political in the sense that it actively shapes the values enacted in the care choice reform. Therefore, it is of great importance to spur a broader debate about the organization of such governance practices, while there is a need to problematize simplistic images of what market reforms of welfare entails in practice. The thesis proposes that an “ecological” – i.e. a situated, reflexive, and malleable – approach to handling of contending values may contribute to such debates.