Seven: Support workers in social care: Between social work professionals and service users

In this chapter the authors adopt a neo-Weberian approach in exploring the current debate about the role of support workers in social care, specifically whether it should be a service run by staff or by the users. The aim of the chapter is to describe and analyse the role of support workers for disabled people in two settings, support workers in residential social care and personal assistants in domiciliary care, both operating within Swedish social work. These two settings have chosen radically different ways to organise the social care in terms of power relations. On the one hand, residential care workers chose a traditional path with staff claiming to be experts in helping and thereby subordinating service users. On the other, the personal assistants took a more unorthodox direction by being themselves subordinated by the service users. Both of these groups might be seen as a new precariat in social care because of their working conditions. As in other societies, this raises the question of how this situation may be addressed at the national political level.

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