Responses from the Frontline: How Organisations and Street-level Bureaucrats Deal with Economic Sanctions

Dorte Caswell, Matilde Høybye-Mortensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

22 Citationer (Scopus)
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Abstrakt

Economic sanctions have gained more political legitimacy and are being more widely used as a tool to improve the willingness of unemployed welfare recipients to participate in activities within the framework of active labour market policy (ALMP). The focus of this article is the use of economic sanctions on cash benefit recipients in Denmark. Quantitative analyses show a substantial increase in the use of economic sanctions in Denmark, including sanctions on those who are categorised as having problems in addition to unemployment. In this article we will direct our attention to responses from both the organisational and individual level regarding the implementation of sanctions. Empirical material consists of interviews with managers and frontline social workers in municipalities with a high number of sanctions. We argue that organisations matter in shaping street-level behaviour, resulting in substantial differences in the use of sanctions from one municipality to another.Research on street-level bureaucracy focuses on the role of organisations when analysing street-level behaviour (Brodkin 2011; Soss et al. 2011b). This paper draws on this research, looking at organisational structure and how social workers and managers argue for the use of economic sanctions.
The research question is: Which organisational practices make a high level of economic sanctions possible?
Empirical material consist of documents and qualitative case studies in two municipalities, were interviews with managers and frontline social workers were conducted.
We make the argument that organisations matter in shaping street-level behaviour and coping, enabling substantial differences in the use of sanctions from one municipality to another. Our analysis show, that organisations are balancing the dilemma between individual discretion and policy compliance by making organisational structure overruling the discretion, while arguing that frontline discretion is very central when legitimising economic sanctions.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Social Security
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)489-503
Antal sider15
ISSN1388-2627
StatusUdgivet - 2015

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