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Social Work on the Whiteboard : Governing by Comparing Performance

Hjärpe, Teres LU (2019) In Social Inclusion 7(1). p.185-195
Abstract
This article explores a number-based comparative logic unfolding around a particular kind of meeting in a social work setting: a daily and short gathering referred to as a “pulse meeting”. At such meetings, staff gather around a whiteboard visualizing individual statistics in terms of the number of client meetings performed or assistance decisions made. The statistics function as a basis for further division of work tasks. As such, it is a particular way of representing what social workers do at work. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the social services revealed how such openly exposed individ- ual performance and the related number-based comparative logic can trump alternative logics ranging from the overall collective performance,... (More)
This article explores a number-based comparative logic unfolding around a particular kind of meeting in a social work setting: a daily and short gathering referred to as a “pulse meeting”. At such meetings, staff gather around a whiteboard visualizing individual statistics in terms of the number of client meetings performed or assistance decisions made. The statistics function as a basis for further division of work tasks. As such, it is a particular way of representing what social workers do at work. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the social services revealed how such openly exposed individ- ual performance and the related number-based comparative logic can trump alternative logics ranging from the overall collective performance, competing views on clients’ needs and efficiency, and the social worker’s sense of professional- ism. When participants of the study compared themselves to each other and in relation to standards and goals, certain conclusions were drawn about what should be done by whom and in what order. Such conclusions became embedded in an objectivity status difficult for anyone to argue against. Finally, the number-based logic also found its way into the counter-practices formulated by social workers unsatisfied with what was visualized on the whiteboard. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
This article explores a number-based comparative logic unfolding around a particular kind of meeting in a social work setting: a daily and short gathering referred to as a “pulse meeting”. At such meetings, staff gather around a whiteboard visualizing individual statistics in terms of the number of client meetings performed or assistance decisions made. The statistics function as a basis for further division of work tasks. As such, it is a particular way of representing what social workers do at work. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the social services revealed how such openly exposed individ- ual performance and the related number-based comparative logic can trump alternative logics ranging from the overall collective performance,... (More)
This article explores a number-based comparative logic unfolding around a particular kind of meeting in a social work setting: a daily and short gathering referred to as a “pulse meeting”. At such meetings, staff gather around a whiteboard visualizing individual statistics in terms of the number of client meetings performed or assistance decisions made. The statistics function as a basis for further division of work tasks. As such, it is a particular way of representing what social workers do at work. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the social services revealed how such openly exposed individ- ual performance and the related number-based comparative logic can trump alternative logics ranging from the overall collective performance, competing views on clients’ needs and efficiency, and the social worker’s sense of professional- ism. When participants of the study compared themselves to each other and in relation to standards and goals, certain conclusions were drawn about what should be done by whom and in what order. Such conclusions became embedded in an objectivity status difficult for anyone to argue against. Finally, the number-based logic also found its way into the counter-practices formulated by social workers unsatisfied with what was visualized on the whiteboard. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
alternative title
Socialt arbete på vita tavlan : styra genom att jämföra prestationer
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
attention displacement, comparative performance, performance measurements, social work
in
Social Inclusion
volume
7
issue
1
pages
10 pages
publisher
Cogitatio
external identifiers
  • scopus:85064262671
ISSN
2183-2803
DOI
10.17645/si.v7i1.1829
project
Att mäta socialt arbete
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
89bb7589-04f6-45da-9d5a-6fc6ff2819f1
date added to LUP
2019-02-28 13:17:51
date last changed
2020-02-19 05:21:24
@article{89bb7589-04f6-45da-9d5a-6fc6ff2819f1,
  abstract     = {This article explores a number-based comparative logic unfolding around a particular kind of meeting in a social work setting: a daily and short gathering referred to as a “pulse meeting”. At such meetings, staff gather around a whiteboard visualizing individual statistics in terms of the number of client meetings performed or assistance decisions made. The statistics function as a basis for further division of work tasks. As such, it is a particular way of representing what social workers do at work. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the social services revealed how such openly exposed individ- ual performance and the related number-based comparative logic can trump alternative logics ranging from the overall collective performance, competing views on clients’ needs and efficiency, and the social worker’s sense of professional- ism. When participants of the study compared themselves to each other and in relation to standards and goals, certain conclusions were drawn about what should be done by whom and in what order. Such conclusions became embedded in an objectivity status difficult for anyone to argue against. Finally, the number-based logic also found its way into the counter-practices formulated by social workers unsatisfied with what was visualized on the whiteboard.},
  author       = {Hjärpe, Teres},
  issn         = {2183-2803},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {02},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {185--195},
  publisher    = {Cogitatio},
  series       = {Social Inclusion},
  title        = {Social Work on the Whiteboard : Governing by Comparing Performance},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i1.1829},
  doi          = {10.17645/si.v7i1.1829},
  volume       = {7},
  year         = {2019},
}