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Home > Arhiva > 2010 > Numar: 3 > Performing Caring Power in a Scandinavian Welfare State

 Performing Caring Power in a Scandinavian Welfare State

  • Kerstin Svensson (Lund University, School of Social Work, PO Box 23, SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN. Phone: + 46 46 222 04 61. E-mail:

In this article social work in Swedish criminal justice is explored and described. The starting point is a description of the welfare state and the social development in Sweden during the 20th century. In this context, a post-industrial welfare state in transition towards selectivity, social workers are educated at universities and work in public organizations. Even so, their profession is vague and social workers are highly depending on their organizations. One of these organizations is the Prison and Probation Service where social workers are employed as probation officers. Probation officers are more or less like other social workers, but they work in an organization where control is obvious. They work with a caring power and strive to make offenders do the right choices and make the right decisions. It is the social workers, as actors for their organization and thereby for the state, they have the preferential right to assess and plan for offenders. Most often they manage to do this, but there are also examples on how offenders can resist probation and make social workers frustrated for not being able to perform their task, and act as being good and helpful.

Keywords: social work, criminal justice, probation, caring power, Sweden