Stockholm university

Research project Privatising the central core of social work

"Privatising the central core of social work – staffing agencies and decision-making in the personal social services" is the full name of a research project led by Emelie Shanks.

The use of staffing agencies in the social services has been discussed both in media reports and by trade unions organising social workers. So far however, the phenomenon has not been given much attention from Swedish scholars. It is unknown to what extent the municipal social services use staffing agencies, although the overall picture indicates that it is far from a marginal trend. The possible consequences of the use personnel from staffing agencies in the Swedish social services is also under-researched, although we know that the legal aspect of using private actors for the exercise or public authority is complex.

Project description

The present study intends to analyse the extent and consequences (positive as well as negative) of the use of staffing agencies in the personal social services. The project is guided by the following research questions:
To what extent are agency social workers used by the personal social services, and how does the usage vary between municipalities and fields of social work?
How do the permanently employed perceive the effects of using agency social workers on the working conditions and the professional work, and how do the agency social workers perceive their discretion and the possibilities for professional work with the clients?
How do significant actors in the social services reason about purchasing, procuring and negotiating with staffing agencies, and what type of policies are used to manage or reduce the need for agency workers?
How are the professional and legal aspects of decision-making and discretion for agency social workers handled by the local authorities?