Preparing to show up. A master thesis exploring the preparational work young welfare clients do in order to meet the perceived expectations of the Norwegian welfare apparatus.
MetadataShow full item record
- Studentoppgaver (SV-IS) 
The point of departure for this master thesis is a widespread assumption that young welfare clients do not prepare for meetings. The extensive efforts professionals do to prepare and improve practices, might indicate this assumption. What is at stake for this research is an establishment that welfare workers are those who initiate for progress in service users’ processes, leaving service users to be regarded as passive recipients of welfare services. There is a need to raise awareness of their everyday lives and their day-to-day actions seen in relation to their contact with the welfare apparatus. The goal is to develop more adequate collaborations between service users and welfare workers and exploring whether or not social services are living up to their functions and mandates. I explore these taken-for-granted assumptions through interviews with six youth who have had contact with a variety of institutions in the welfare apparatus. I use tools and insights from institutional ethnography with a focus on work and work knowledge. Work is a broad and generous term which relates to people’s actions, what they actually do that takes time and effort in their daily lives. Work knowledge refers to what people say and know about their own work. The implications of using this perspective is to make service users active agents with knowledge of their own work in social relations with different welfare institutions. The research questions driving the project are: How do young welfare clients prepare themselves for meetings with institutions within the Norwegian welfare apparatus? What kind of ‘preparational work’ do they do? The findings show that contrary to the widespread assumptions, the youth do a lot to prepare for the meetings. The youth prepare to show up to meetings as much as they prepare for the actual content of the meeting. They often battle anxiety and stress in preparing for meetings with bureaucratic systems where institutionalized expectations prevails. The youth need less preparing when they meet professionals in institutions using outreach work. These institutions are seen as more accommodating and working on the youths’ behalf. Consequently, the preparations can differ according to the institutions they are meeting and what function and mandate they serve in the context of the welfare apparatus. The preparations can be divided into three types of work; practical, emotional, and preparing to deal with inner resistance. The analysis points to how the youth feel they need to present themselves in the social relations they take part in. Using the work of Erwing Goffman and literature on welfare politics, the findings lead into a discussion about the ideology of being a ‘good’ or active client in the welfare apparatus and what type of role the youth feel the need to put on. Being a good or active client is discussed against the institutional expectations and how these expectations affects the youths’ everyday lives in preparing for meetings. These findings have implications for practice in that preparations might be used as something to be discussed in meetings. Both welfare workers and service users can benefit from initiating conversations around how institutional practices affects their lives. Addressing these issues can raise awareness to potential stress and unwanted reactions to what is supposed to be helping service users’ lives.