Identity of clients and social workers in service provision: an institutional logics perspective


  • Filip Wollter Stockholm University Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College



This article illustrates how the theory of institutional logics can be used for analyzing the identity of social workers and clients, focusing on people processing that precedes treatment (control access, assessment, and treatment deliberation, among others). The article has two research questions: (1) What identities of social workers and clients can be distinguished by institutional logics? (2) How are identities intertwined in practice (exemplified by well-established decision-making models such as evidence-based practice, family group conference, and government by voucher)? Identity is examined using institutional logics and the findings reported in the current body of social work literature. The article derives two conclusions. The first conclusion is that institutional logics can be used for distinguishing ideal type identities: three client identities, namely taken care of community member (community logic), active citizen (participatory democracy logic), and consumer (market logic); and three social worker identities, namely professional (professional logic), bureaucrat (State logic), and executor of management directives (corporation logic). The second conclusion is that identities and institutional logics coexist in well-established models for processing people and treatment deliberation, but the conditions for coexistence differ. For instance, evidence-based practice is characterized by segregation (a bureaucratic and a professional alignment have been separated from the original version of EBP), whereas family group conference and government by voucher are typified by assimilation (logics coexist with the core elements of original logics preserved).


Keywords: social work, institutional logics, people processing, decision-making


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How to Cite

Wollter, F. (2020). Identity of clients and social workers in service provision: an institutional logics perspective. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 21(3).