The group home workplace and the work of know-how

Human Studies 28 (1):57 - 85 (2005)
Abstract
This paper is concerned with the everyday practice of authority and knowledge in a group home for adults with intellectual disability. Based on fieldwork, the group home is understood as a workplace, which provides a model of organizational participation as a dilemma of freedom rather than a problem of power. Three kinds of work are observed in the everyday know-how of counselors and residents. First, Michael Lipskys concept of street-level bureaucracy is used to understand the inherently indeterminate and conflictual nature of counselor work. Second, the competent participation of residents is also organized as work, often explicitly, as the work they must do to become more independent. The group home is therefore understood as a setting of governmentality because it reflects the indirect practice of authority characteristic of contemporary liberal societies. Finally, the ethnomethodological insight about the accomplished character of local order is the basis for the observation of everyday life itself as a third kind of work.
Keywords disability  ethnomethodology  governmentality  group home  social service work
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