The Institutionalization of Social Welfare: A Study of Medicalizing Management, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Institutionalization of Social Welfare

A Study of Medicalizing Management, 1st Edition

By Mikael Holmqvist


216 pages

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Today most countries rely on formally organized welfare programs - in some cases to the extent that they are labeled "welfare states". These programs, which have been constructed over the last decades, make up a larger national and international system of good intentions. Overall, it appears inconceivable to imagine "civilized society" without a comprehensive organizational system of social welfare. Social welfare has become a "holy cow" in many societies; an institutionalized aspect of modern life. But how does the institutionalization of social welfare occur through the concrete activities it enacts; and why does the institutionalization of social welfare appear to be so particularly successful in relation to other institutionalizing phenomena? These are central problems for any sociological analysis of contemporary society’s organization and are the main locus of attention of this book.

Holmqvist explores how a social welfare organization becomes a self-evident phenomenon by "medicalizing" its environment: a way of "solving" social problems by viewing and treating them as medical problems. This study generates new understandings of how institutionalization of organizations comes about and contributes fresh insight to the area of social welfare policies.


I recommend this book for those interested in institutional theory, the sociology of organizations, and the interplay between identity and organizations. The theoretical suggestions are pungent and the empirical materials persuasive of diverse pathways through which we have become institutionalized."

- Sajay Samuel, Smeal College of Business, Administrative Science Quarterly

Table of Contents

1. Problems of Institutionalization 2. Management 3. Medicalization 4. Samhall of Sweden 5. Recruitment 6. Development 7. Transition 8. Medicalizing Management: Diagnosis 9. Medicalizing Management: Treatment 10. Enacting the Welfare Disabled Client 11. Conclusions

About the Author

Mikael Holmqvist is an associate professor in organization theory at the School of Business, Stockholm University.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Methodology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General