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The Emergence of Crime Victims as a Target Group in the Swedish Social Services Act
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
University of San Francisco, Politics Department.
2010 (English)In: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, ISSN 1404-3858, E-ISSN 1651-2340, 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 11, no 2, 170-188 p.
Keyword [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-47046DOI: 10.1080/14043858.2010.523556OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-47046DiVA: diva2:372765
Available from: 2010-11-28 Created: 2010-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Emergence of the Crime Victim in the Swedish Social Services Act
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Emergence of the Crime Victim in the Swedish Social Services Act
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
crime victim, domestic violence, social welfare law, social work, social services
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55698 (URN)978-91-7447-205-9 (ISBN)
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

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