A1 Journal article (refereed)
Policy Alienation in Frontline Social Work : A Study of Social Workers’ Responses to a Major Anticipated Social and Health Care Reform in Finland (2022)

Tammelin, M., & Mänttäri-van der Kuip, M. (2022). Policy Alienation in Frontline Social Work : A Study of Social Workers’ Responses to a Major Anticipated Social and Health Care Reform in Finland. Ethics and Social Welfare, 16(1), 19-35. https://doi.org/10.1080/17496535.2021.1977836

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Tammelin, Mia; Mänttäri-van der Kuip, Maija

Journal or series: Ethics and Social Welfare

ISSN: 1749-6535

eISSN: 1749-6543

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 15/09/2021

Volume: 16

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 19-35

Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17496535.2021.1977836

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/78622


Change in the policy and ideology governing social and health care has been much debated in the Western welfare states, including in Finland, where the public sector has witnessed a shift towards a market and managerial ideology in a climate of austerity. These changes affect organisations as well as individual workers. Social workers implement social policies in their daily work, and are thus positioned in between policies and clients. This may expose them to feelings of unease in the implementation of certain policies. In this study, we apply the policy alienation framework of Tummers and colleagues (2009. “Policy Alienation of Public Professionals: Application in a new Public Management Context.” Public Management Review 11 (5): 685–706) in analysing the responses of social workers to a major social and health care reform prepared in Finland in 2015–2019. By applying problem-driven content analysis to interview data, we study how social workers responded to the proposals for reform, and how the two dimensions of policy alienation, i.e. experiences of meaninglessness and powerlessness, were manifested. The findings suggest that policy alienation is widespread among social workers and that experiences of powerlessness and meaninglessness are common. The social workers experienced powerlessness in relation to specific policies and practices. They also viewed the reform as meaningless, as it lacked socially relevant goals.

Keywords: social workers; social policy; politics; reforms; change; savings; enforcement; public sector; social welfare; social services; public health service; welfare state; well-being at work; liability; meaningfulness; alienation

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:17