Skälens fångar: Hemlöshetsarbetets organisering, kategoriseringar och förklaringar
Sammanfattning: Category housing is an example of forms of housing that belong to the organized work of providing residences for persons who for diverse reasons cannot obtain them on the ordinary housing market. In the organizing of the practical social work that is carried out for this purpose, categorization serves as an important tool for connecting the available housing alternatives with the individuals who seek help in their residential situation. The practice of social work brings about an ambivalence for social workers who are often forced to choose housing solutions that they themselves regard as inferior, but still better than the situation in which the client is found. The form of housing to which the client is referred is then neither the most suitable nor the most desirable one, but what is available “here and now”. The aim of this thesis is to analyze how homeless people are sorted and how efforts for them are organized, as well as what reasons are given to explain and legitimize this practice. Thus, I am studying the social service’s organizing of different housing alternatives with a special focus on how this organizing is related to the social workers’ categorization of clients and their legitimizing of such efforts. My study has been based on three main questions: • How does the social service in Malmö organize the work for homeless people? • What significance does categorization have in relation to this organizing? Which categories emerge? To which housing alternatives are these referred? What does this categorizing mean for the homeless people who are affected? • Which arguments do officials use to explain and legitimize the categorization of homeless people and the housing alternatives they are referred to? Explanation is one of the analytical concepts that I employ for studying how the interviewed persons report or narrate the reasons and motivations for how the work with homelessness is conducted. The actions of officials can thereby be justified or excused with the help of reasons that are organizationally anchored. In order to meet the objectives of the thesis I have employed diverse methods and several kinds of empirical material. Interviews and vignettes have acquired a leading role in my thesis project, since this is a rich body of evidence that illuminates both how the homelessness work is organized, what categorizations are made and which reasons are given for explaining the practice. This study deals with principles for the organizing of local work with homelessness. I have especially analyzed how social workers sort clients in different categories, as well as what connections exist between client categories and the housing alternatives that are created. Moreover, I have shown how this categorization work is legitimized in relation to the “prognosis” of clients, i.e. what the officials perceive as being the clients’ will and motivation to pursue a housing career. There is an inherent idea of qualification in the housing staircase that connects the clients’ will and motivation with the position which is temporarily assigned to them on this staircase. The housing alternatives that have been created are legitimized with different reasons depending on which function the officials think that the housing fulfils. The study has shown, among other things, that the function is sometimes to be a last outpost for the client categories who have been disqualified from other housing alternatives. At the same time, the study has shown that the social workers who serve in a residence which is considered a last outpost believe that a new final station is needed for the persons who they do not regard as “fitting in”.
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