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The Emergence of the Crime Victim in the Swedish Social Services Act
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study sought to explain how crime victims emerged as a target group in the Swedish Social Services Act in 2001. The findings, derived from legislative documents, a literature review, and focus group interviews with social workers, showed that the 2001 provisions both duplicated and undermined pre-existing provisions of the Social Services Act. The explicit aim of the reform was to improve services to crime victims. The provisions did not, however, change the legal responsibility of the social services, nor did they strengthen the social rights of crime victims. The social services already assumed responsibility for crime victims according to other provisions of the act. To some degree, the reform can be explained symbolically. Support for crime victims was a complicated issue for the social democratic government. The economic crisis of the early 1990s ruled out reforms that might bring high increased costs. Yet expanding crime victims’ rights at the expense of the offender (e.g. toughening penal law and promoting victim impact statements) was not in line with social democratic ideology. By enacting the 2001 provisions, the government showed its commitment to providing support to crime victims. At the same time, the provisions did not increase costs or strengthen crime victims’ rights. In this way, the provisions solved a political dilemma for the government. Incorporating the 2001 provisions in the Social Services Act may seem to have been a modest reform. Symbolic politics, however, are not empty; rather, they reflect attitudes and beliefs. This study proposed that the reform revealed the state’s increasing concern with violence against women and individual responsibility. Furthermore, the provisions may have constituted a normative reorientation of the Social Services Act, in which individual responsibility increasingly replaced solidarity, the holistic view, and a right to assistance according to need.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Social Work, Stockholm University , 2011. , 85 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in social work, ISSN 0281-2851 ; 28
Keyword [en]
crime victim, domestic violence, social welfare law, social work, social services
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55698ISBN: 978-91-7447-205-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-55698DiVA: diva2:406201
Public defence
2011-04-29, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveavägen 160, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-04-07 Created: 2011-03-25 Last updated: 2011-04-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Crime Victims in the Swedish Social Services Act
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Crime Victims in the Swedish Social Services Act
2009 (English)In: International Review of Victimology, ISSN 0269-7580, Vol. 15, no 3, 299-326 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article is a legal analysis of the Swedish welfare statute and its application to crime victims. Specifically, it addresses a legal reform from 2001, when a new provision concerning crime victims was introduced in the Swedish Social Services Act (2001: 453). The article raises policy issues, relating both to the limitations on the rights bestowed and the relationship between the various types of statutory provisions incorporated in the legislation. In particular, it focuses on the dichotomy between those provisions bestowing rights and those outlining goals. The main conclusion of the study is that the legal guidance regarding crime victims in the Social Services Act is vague, indistinct and contradictory. Additionally, section 5:11 does not change the legal responsibility of the Social Services towards crime victims, nor does it lead to the strengthening of the social rights of this group. Even the preparatory material indicates that the reform does not effect any legal changes. In addition, just like many other legal reforms for crime victims, very little supervision or enforcement mechanisms exist to ensure the application of the law.

 

Keyword
rights, Social Services Act, Sweden, victim assistance, victim needs
National Category
Social Work Law (excluding Law and Society)
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-28240 (URN)
Available from: 2009-06-11 Created: 2009-06-11 Last updated: 2012-03-08Bibliographically approved
2. Crime Victims and the Social Services: Social Workers’ Viewpoint
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Crime Victims and the Social Services: Social Workers’ Viewpoint
2007 (English)In: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, ISSN 1404-3858, Vol. 8, no 2, 138-156 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to analyse how social workers in the social services describe crime victims and their role in support- ing these victims. Based on focus groups with social workers in the social services, it is established that social workers discriminate between a categorical understand- ing of crime victims and an assessment of individuals in need. The categorical understanding of crime victims is connected to weakness and innocence, and the discussions are constructed with focus on women and children. However, when the social work- ers move beyond this idea and describe individual victims of crime they have met, they attri- bute a more complicated picture and acknowledge the complexity of crime and victimization. The social workers give themselves a vague role regarding support to victims of crime. They consider themselves as able to connect individuals in need with helping resources, but they do not regard themselves as resources in this area. According to the social workers, an individual should not receive support from the social services just because he or she is categorized by them as a victim of crime. One conclusion is that the category ‘crime victims’ has not gained acceptance among the social workers.

Keyword
children, domestic violence, ideal victim, need, social services, social worker, support, victims of crime, women
National Category
Law and Society Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55697 (URN)10.1080/14043850701706911 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-03-25 Created: 2011-03-25 Last updated: 2012-03-08Bibliographically approved
3. The Idea of the Crime Victim as a Trojan Horse in the Swedish Social Services Act
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Idea of the Crime Victim as a Trojan Horse in the Swedish Social Services Act
2010 (English)In: International Handbook of Victimology / [ed] Shlomo Giora Shoham, Paul Knepper, Martin Kett, Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2010Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2010
Keyword
crime victim, social services, the Social Services Act
National Category
Social Work Law and Society Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-47047 (URN)978-1-4200-8547-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2010-11-28 Created: 2010-11-28 Last updated: 2012-03-08Bibliographically approved
4. The Emergence of Crime Victims as a Target Group in the Swedish Social Services Act
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Emergence of Crime Victims as a Target Group in the Swedish Social Services Act
2010 (English)In: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, ISSN 1404-3858, Vol. 11, no 2, 170-188 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the political motives behind the introduction of crime victim support provisions in the Swedish Social Services Act. The findings derive from a case study of the preparatory material that prefaced the legal changes that were adopted in 2001. The result shows that the explicit purpose of the provisions was to consider measures to improve the support to crime victims. To some degree the provisions can also be explained by symbolic factors. In fact, most actors in the law-making process indicate that their motives were communicative and symbolic. Support to crime victims was presumably a complicated issue for the social democratic government. Because of the economical crisis in the early 1990s, there was no scope for reforms that implied high increased costs. Yet expanding the crime victim's rights in relation to the offender, such as toughening the penal law and promoting victim impact statements, was not in line with social democratic ideology. By enacting the provisions in the Social Services Act the government demonstrated that support to crime victims was an important area of concern. At the same time, the provisions did not involve any increased costs or strengthen the crime victim's rights in relation to the offender. In this way, the provisions became a mediator that solved a difficult political dilemma for the government.

Keyword
crime victim, Social Services Act, social welfare law, social work, symbolic politics, violence against women
National Category
Social Work Law and Society Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Social Work; Pathology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-47046 (URN)10.1080/14043858.2010.523556 (DOI)
Available from: 2010-11-28 Created: 2010-11-28 Last updated: 2012-03-08Bibliographically approved

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