Stockholms universitet

Hugo StranzUniversitetslektor, docent, studierektor grundutbildning

Om mig

Docent i socialt arbete, studierektor för socionomprogrammet och utbildning på avancerad nivå.


Socialtjänstens praktiska arbete, i synnerhet ekonomiskt bistånd och bedömningar av rätten till bistånd.



I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • A safety net for all? – Vignette-based assessments of Swedish social assistance over three decades

    2023. Åke Bergmark, Hugo Stranz. Journal of Social Policy


    Swedish welfare is often characterized as comprehensive and generous. Social assistance constitutes the final safety net in the Swedish model. Unlike most other benefits, eligibility and subsidy levels are here subject to extensive means-testing, with eligibility determined by individual caseworkers. In this article, we explore the extent to which eligibility determination and generosity of benefits have changed in social assistance assessments over three decades, relating these to changes in regulations over the same period.

    The article presents data from three independent vignette studies conducted in the mid-1990s, mid-2000s and in 2018 respectively. The data consist of assessments of a total of six vignettes, made by individual caseworkers (n=1 337). The results indicate that overall generosity in social assistance has decreased considerably over the last 25 years and that, despite both national and local initiatives to reduce individual variation in assessments, disparities have instead increased.

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  • Automating social assistance: Exploring the use of robotic process automation in the Swedish personal social services

    2023. Nora Germundsson, Hugo Stranz. International Journal of Social Welfare


    Many European countries employ Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the administration of public benefits. However, there is limited understanding of how RPA is applied at the client level. This article investigates the utilization and impact of RPA use on social assistance (SA) distribution in Sweden, drawing on a sample of 800 SA applications in four Swedish municipalities. The results show that RPA use correlates with applicants' country of birth, age and duration of SA receipt. Additionally, RPA implementation coincides with less generous decisions, disproportionately affecting financially vulnerable groups. Rather than a correlation between generosity and the technology itself, the results suggest a conflict between the reorganisation of SA administration during RPA implementation and the principle of individualized judgments inherent in SA casework. Hence, public organisations are encouraged to ensure that their adoption of RPA neither exacerbates unequal access to services nor compromises professional discretion in favour of efficiency-driven measures.

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  • Utilized discretion: a vignette study of social assistance assessments in Sweden

    2023. Åke Bergmark, Hugo Stranz. European Journal of Social Work 26 (5), 840-852


    Swedish social assistance (SA) is administered with substantial discretion among both municipalities and social workers. Although such discretionary power has its merits, it also comes with potential disadvantages. Previous studies show considerable variation in assessments of SA eligibility, not only between municipalities but also between social workers within the same organisation. Further, the differences seem to have increased over time and apply irrespective of the method used for measurement. The present paper analyses eligibility assessments of eight so-called vignettes, collected among just over 1,000 social workers in 19 Swedish municipalities, including Sweden’s three major cities. The assessments are analysed by means of multilevel logistic and linear regression analysis, focusing on the influence that basic social worker characteristics, professional factors and individual attitudes exert over (a) propensity to grant SA in separate vignettes and (b) general tendency to grant applications. The results show that social workers’ caseload and attitudes towards clients and SA in general affect the outcomes of assessments the most. Along with the fact that significant parts of the variations remain unexplained, one main conclusion is that Swedish SA administration seem to be somewhat disengaged from formal rules and regulations.

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  • A matter of choice—professionals’ views on the incorporation of practical work with intimate partner violence into Swedish personal social services

    2019. Lisa Lundberg, Hugo Stranz. Nordic Journal of Social Research 10 (1), 48-65


    During the last decades, efforts have been made to increase local support provided to victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Sweden. As with other social problems, responsibility to address IPV falls on the municipal personal social services. The present article draws upon data obtained via structured telephone interviews with designated personal social services staff members from a sample of 99 municipalities, focusing on aspects of potential progress in social work with IPV. The results show that successful incorporation of IPV into personal social services largely seems to depend upon the commitment and dedication of individual actors within the organisations. Furthermore, the data indicate that competence in this field depends on personal inclination, with attention to IPV appearing as ‘a matter of choice’. The results are analysed using neo-institutional theory as well as concepts related to social movement studies, with focus on individual agency in organisational change and the potential relevance of IPV as an issue related to gender inequality to gender inequality. The analysis suggests that while IPV social work may challenge institutionalised practises within social services, change may go both ways with IPV being reframed to fit within the established framework of social services.

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  • Studie av Instrument X: Om användningen av ett standardiserat instrument i arbetet med ekonomiskt bistånd

    2019. Åke Bergmark, Hugo Stranz.


    I denna rapport behandlas Instrument X, ett instrument för initial bedömning, insatsval och uppföljning i arbetet med ekonomiskt bistånd. Syftet med studien är att undersöka hur instrumentet används i praktiken och dess betydelse för individer som uppbär ekonomiskt bistånd.

    Studien är genomförd inom ramen för ett nationellt tre-årigt utvecklingsprojekt som SKR driver tillsammans med 27 kommuner och forskare, i syfte att bryta långvarigt biståndsmottagande och utveckla verksamhetsområdet.

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  • Ringar på vattnet: om socialtjänstens indvid- och familjeomsorg i samverkan

    2017. Åke Bergmark (et al.). Socionomen (1), 34-48

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  • The wide-meshed safety net

    2017. Hugo Stranz, Patrik Karlsson, Stefan Wiklund. European Journal of Social Work 20 (5), 711-723


    This article explores and analyses, with the help of both client and social worker data on 423 applications for social assistance in Sweden, (i) the extent to which social assistance benefits and labour market strengthening measures are granted and (ii) factors concerning clients as well as social workers that are associated with the granting of benefits. Considering (i), the results show that social assistance is granted in about 74% of cases while only 6% of applicants are granted additional labour market strengthening measures. With regard to (ii), the results indicate that the granting of benefits seems to depend on abroad spectrum of factors at both the client and the social worker levels. For example, more experienced social workers are less willing to grant social assistance while chances increase when an applicant is already registered at the local public employment service and/or social insurance office. Moreover, the granting of benefits also co-varies withmore or less invariable factors at the client level: social workers are in general more generous towards women and people born outside Sweden, but rather less generous vis-à-vis single parents. The findings are discussed in terms of workfare and professionalization among social workers.

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  • People processing in Swedish personal social services

    2016. Hugo Stranz, Stefan Wiklund, Patrik Karlsson. Nordic Social Work Research 6 (3), 174-187


    By utilising data on nearly 1 200 individuals subject to investigations in the three Swedish personal social services (PSS) domains – child welfare (CW), social assistance (SA) and substance abuse treatment (SAT) – this article aims at describing and analysing the individuals processed in PSS as well as the outcome of the filtering process. Specific attention is paid to the extent the PSS domains differ in these respects. The main findings are: (i) a large proportion of clients subject to investigation are men, singles (most common without children in SA and SAT) and a born outside of Sweden (CW and SA). In terms of overall predicaments, SAT raw material seem more exposed than that of SA whereas there are fairly low concentration of abuse and neglect in CW; (ii) recidivism rates are high in all PSS domains: about half of the sample are already known by the agencies; (iii) out-screening are similar in SA and SAT (about 25%) but substantially higher in CW (about 50%). The investigative process is associated with considerably low external and in particular internal referring, indicating an apparent silo mentality between the PSS domains.

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  • Child welfare activities targeting single mothers on social assistance

    2015. Hugo Stranz, Stefan Wiklund. British Journal of Social Work 45 (4), 1224-1241


    By utilising data on nearly 900 single mothers on social assistance (SA) in Sweden, this article examine (i) prevalence of child welfare interventions and factors associated with such interventions in this population and (ii) case managers’ reporting activities and considerations in relation to this group. The main findings in relation to (i) are (a) that about 30 per cent of the sample was subject toCWSinvolvement during the time of enrolment in the SA agency and (b) factors associated with increased odds ratios of CWS involvement were presence of maternal psycho-social and mental conditions, large family size (more than one child) and persistent maternal SA dependency (over three years). Factors associated with decreased odds ratios were maternal somatic condition and mothers being of non-native origin. The main findings in relation to (ii) are (a) that social work case managers filedCWSreports in 5 per cent of the households (significantlymorecommonin nonnative households) and considered filing a report in an additional 3.4 per cent (more common in native households) and (b) CWS involvement was initiated through SA case managers’ referrals in an estimated 15 per cent of the cases. The findings are discussed in terms of possible clientification processes in the population studied.

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  • Från lokal förankring till regional samverkan? FoU-miljöer i socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg

    2015. Åke Bergmark, Tommy Lundström, Hugo Stranz. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift 22 (2), 133-151


    R&D units in Swedish social services: From local integration to regional collaboration.

    For a period of over thirty years, the emergence of R&D units serving locally based Swedish social services has been considered an important ingredient in the evolvement of more professional and knowledge-based social services. It has also been regarded as a vital component for increasing practice orientation in social work research, both inside and outside the universities. In this article we describe and analyse the development of these units, with respect to their pro-liferation, organizational features and how they are valued by representatives of local social servi-ces. Our data show that almost every municipality in Sweden is, in one way or another, served by an R&D unit. These units, however, display a considerable variation with respect to basic resour-ces, activity and organizational framework. Data enabled the identification of four basic catego-ries that, more or less, represent different phases in the evolvement of R&D activities. At one end, representing the early stages, there are units integrated with and exclusively serving single municipalities. At the other end there are R&D units organized within regional associa-tions, serving multiple municipalities and in general established in recent years. In between, there are two categories of R&D units formed in direct collaboration between a limited number of municipalities – one category formally connected to academia, another with less systematic con-tacts with university-based research. In general, development over time has resulted in a dilution of resources and an increasing distance between practice and R&D activities. Originally, the units were established by the initiatives of the municipalities and expected to respond to research needs emanating from practice. The regional associations have to a considerable extent been initiated and funded by earmarked state grants with the intention to implement evidence-based practice.

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  • One for All or All for One? The Collaboration of Swedish Personal Social Services with Regard to Lone Mothers on Social Assistance

    2015. Hugo Stranz, Stefan Wiklund. British Journal of Social Work 45 (2), 549-567


    Lone mothers on social assistance (SA) constitute a client group where collaboration between agencies may be of particular importance due to their difficulties in maintaining full-time provision and the vast number of children involved. This article aims to analyse to what extent, and with whom, welfare agencies in the field of personal social services collaborate in individual cases. The significance of client factors with regard to collaboration with labour market-oriented and/or treatment-oriented partners, respectively, is being analysed. The study is based on microdata from a cross-sectional sample (n = 875) from the total population of lone mothers receiving SA in one of Sweden's three major cities at some point during 2007. Data were collected through questionnaires that were answered by the case managers responsible. The main findings are: (i) welfare agencies collaborate with at least one partner in about 60 per cent of the cases; (ii) psycho-social impairments and mental health impairments increase collaboration with treatment-oriented partners; and (iii) whereas long-term SA recipiency increases collaboration with labour market-oriented partners, low educational attainment significantly decreases collaboration with labour market-oriented partners. It is suggested that educational measures ought to be improved and given a more significant role in practical social work with this particular client group.

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  • Risk factors of long-term social assistance recipiency among lone mothers. The case of Sweden

    2012. Hugo Stranz, Stefan Wiklund. European Journal of Social Work 15 (4), 514-531


    For decades, lone mothers have been vastly overrepresented among Swedish social assistance recipients. In Sweden, social assistance is administered in the personal social services. The study aims to explore and analyse factors associated with long-term recipiency among lone mothers. The empirical material consists of micro data on 875 randomly selected lone mothers receiving social assistance in any of the three major cities of Sweden in 2007. In the analysis, a distinction is made between household demographics (e.g. ethnicity) and individual factors (subdivided into individual impairments (e.g. psychosocial conditions) and financial vulnerability (e.g. unemployment)). The main findings are: (1) even though household demographics alone show low explanatory value for long-term social assistance recipiency, analysed factors remain significant when controlling for individual factors; (2) among individual factors, only variables indicating financial vulnerability are significant. A main conclusion in the study is that social workers should be attentative that subgroups within the larger population of lone mothers have higher risk of long-term recipiency (e.g. non-native origin). Furthermore, policy revisions should be considered for this group, since personal social services extensively address individual impairments whereas long-term recipiency is strongly associated with structural factors.

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  • Teknikens under?

    2012. Hugo Stranz, Anneli Stranz, Palle Storm. Socionomens forskningssupplement (32), 16-23


    I artikeln presenteras resultaten från en explorativ fallstudie med fokus på förutsättningarna för e-baserad handläggning i socialtjänstens arbete med äldre och funktionsnedsatta personer. Av resultaten framgår bland annat att den personliga kontakten med socialtjänsten tillmäts stor betydelse och att faktorer som kön, klass och ålder är centrala för målgruppens möjligheter att dra nytta av e-baserade handläggningssystem.

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