Paper presentation Behind political ideas of welfare and productivity. Exploring ontological models and forms of exclusion in changing times

Aktivitet: Foredrag og mundtlige bidragKonferenceoplæg


The aim of this presentation is to promote reflection on how political ideas of society, welfare and social work are informed by knowledge about the ontology of human beings and social problems and, how forms of exclusion are embedded in changing political ideas of welfare.The intention is to highlight the way in which various elements of the problem complex of man become visible at different times over the course of history. Political ideas of welfare, and social work, are based on shifting types of knowledge about man and society. Historically, welfare policies have aimed for inclusion, but have also marginalized ‘the deviant’, in the attempt to construct a common societal identity as ‘the norm’. In this presentation I offer an analytical understanding and exploration of the historical construction of a social political narrative about how best to ensure a population consisting of ‘productive individuals’ and of how these narratives have led to shifting understandings, explanations and exclusions of knowledge of ‘the uproductive individuals’ ( Through a historical analysis the ontological models behind the political ideas of productivity will be identified which have been significant in the shaping of the local Danish welfare state but also the global developments.
The shifting ontological models become greatly inluential concerning the role and responsibility of the state, the design of welfare policies, the technological solutions, and consequently the role and function of social work. This argument is explored and illustrated through a historical analysis with point of departure in the Danish context focusing on:
1. How political ideas of welfare historically relate to ideas of productivity as an unyielding focus on enabling inclusion on the labour market for the purpose of ensuring prosperity/economic growth and possibilities for welfare in an increasingly globalised competitive market
2. How continuous objectives to ensure economic growth and the ‘productive standard’ have had a historical subtext of shifts in the
ontological models, i.e. understandings, explanations, and definitions of human conditions and problems, their causes, solutions, and transformation processes, and how forms of exclusion are related to these forms of knowledge
3. How science and social work can contribute to the reconstruction of broader and more nuanced views on human conditions, exclusion, and ultimately social problems.
In the last part of the presentation, I will question how science and social work can contribute to the development of ontological models based on integrative, nuanced view on the dialectics between society, human beings and social problems in the future across varied contexts (family; psychiatry; disability; community work, social work with unemployed people etc.).
Periode17 apr. 2018
Sted for afholdelseUniversity of Edinburgh, Storbritannien
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • Ontological Models, Inclusion/Exclusion, Welfare politics, Social Problems, Social Work