1st Edition

Racism in Danish Welfare Work with Refugees Troubled by Difference, Docility and Dignity

    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores contemporary Danish relations of colonial complicity in welfare work with newly arrived refugees (1978-2016) as recursive histories that reveal new shapes and shades of racism.

    Focussing on super- and subordination in helping relations of postcoloniality, the book displays the durability of coloniality and the workings of raceless racism in welfare work with refugees. Its main contribution is the excavation of stock stories of colour-blindness, potentialising and compassion, which help welfare workers invest in burying that which keeps haunting welfare work with refugees, i.e., modern ghosts of difference, docility and dignity.

    The book dismantles the global myth of the Danish benevolent, universalistic welfare state and it is of interest to every scholar and student, who wants to make inquiries about Danish exceptionalism and the hidden interaction between past and present, the visible and invisible in Danish welfare work with refugees.


    1. Race and welfare

    2. A postcolonial welfare analytics

    3. A brief history of Danish refugee reception – contextualising the source material

    4. Sociological history of racism and the methodological intervention of stock stories

    5. The stock story of colour-blindness

    6. The stock story of potentializing

    7. The stock story of compassion

    8. From modern ghosts to a racial structure of welfare work


    Marta Padovan-Özdemir, PhD, is Associate Professor in social change at the Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University and former Senior Associate Professor at the Research centre for management, organisation and society and former head of the Research program for society and diversity, VIA University College. Her research revolves around diversity management in welfare work and how structures of inequality play out in well-meaning interventions. Recent publications include the journal article "Denied, but Effective: Stock stories in Danish welfare work with refugees" (2020, with Trine Øland) and the volume, State Crafting on the Fringes. Studies of Welfare Work Addressing the Other (2019 with Trine Øland, Christian Ydesen & Bolette Moldenhawer). 

    Trine Øland, PhD, is Associate Professor in Educational Research, head of the research group The history and sociology of welfare work and head of Section for Education at University of Copenhagen. Her research interests concern the history and sociology of welfare state progressivism and integrationism, and the way power and inequality effects society and what it means to be human. Recent publications are the journal article "Montage and the illumination of developmental thinking in welfare work" (2021, with Stine Thygesen), and the book Welfare work with immigrants and refugees in a social democratic welfare state (2019).