Ikke-jurister i et retligt højspændingsfelt – når sagsbehandlere og borgere samproducerer sagsbehandling

Stine Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: ThesisPh.D. thesis

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This PhD thesis carries out a socio-legal analysis of how citizens and caseworkers in the public
administration co-produce the casework. Citizens and caseworkers interact in a legally complex
context where legal regulation and perceptions of law influence the co-production of the casework.
Existing research points out that three forms of complexities characterise especially casework within
the field of social law: problem complexity, complexity of social law and organisational complexity.
Moreover, research indicates that the casework’s process is influenced by the interactions between
citizens and caseworkers, their individual perceptions and actions as well as the context of the
casework. The PhD thesis contributes to the existing field of research through the analysis and
synthetisation of these different factors.

In the PhD thesis, the problem complexity and the interactions between citizens and caseworkers are
analysed with a starting point in Sheila Jasanoff’s theory on co-production. The complexity of social
law and the citizens’ and caseworkers’ perception of law and their action in the co-production are
analysed with a starting point in legal consciousness as a theoretical concept, inspired by Patricia
Ewick & Susan S. Silbey, Kathryne M. Young and Marc Hertogh. The organisational complexity of
the casework is analysed with a starting point in Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory, especially his
organisational systems theory. Moreover, the theory is applied with the purpose of analysing how
citizens’ and caseworkers’ role in the casework conditions their understandings – their observations
– of the casework’s context and the options for help.

To concretise the PhD thesis’ investigation, the employment casework of long-term unemployed
recipients of cash assistance is applied as a case study. The data collection has taken place in three
municipal jobcentres as the jobcentres administrate the employment casework. 15 so-called citizen
cases are analysed, five from each of the three municipalities. Each citizen case consists of the records
related to the citizen’s employment case, participant observations of the interactions between
caseworkers and citizens as well as individual, semi-structured interviews with both parties. The legal
regulation of the employment casework and the rules and principles within the fields of social law
and administrative law relating to this casework have been analysed before the data collection has
taken place. This enables an in-depth understanding of the legal complexity of social law which
characterises the casework in the field of social law.

Based on the results from the PhD thesis analyses, it is possible to conclude that caseworkers and
citizens co-produce the casework through their interactions which serve as platforms to exchange and
negotiate knowledge. Their individual constructions of legality, meaning what is perceived as lawful,
inform their actions in the co-production. Thus, a variety of actions takes place, conditioned by the
individual perceptions of what is lawful. Caseworkers’ and citizens’ role in the casework result in
different observations of the help which should and could be actualised in the casework, though the
purpose of the employment casework is unambiguous: That the citizens obtain employment.
Original languageDanish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Hammerslev, Ole, Principal supervisor
  • Christoffersen, Lisbet, Co-supervisor, External person
Date of defence16. Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16. Jun 2020

Note re. dissertation

Defended 16th of june 2020

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