Stigma, Small Communities & Local Welfare Bureaucracies. Paper presented at The International Research Conference on Marginalisation and Social Exclusion Ålesund May 21-23, 2003
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In this paper I would like to discuss some problems facing the clients of welfare bureaucracies in rather small communities. The discussion is based upon data from a research project on this topic, as well as assumptions based on theory. In the mentioned research project two coastal communities in western and northern part of Norway have been studied. These communities have relatively few inhabitants. In one of the communities the population is just above 2000 inhabitants, and in the other community we are talking about a population around 6000 inhabitants. This means that the communities probably are of a transparent kind, and therefore the possibilities for conducting widespread social control is fairly high. The communities are dominated by jobs connected to fish industry and shipbuilding. Both communities have what might be called a traditionally rooted work ethic connected to physical work in the industries. In the research project we have studied youth that gets into contact with the Social Welfare Office1, the Local Employment Office2 as well as the Social Security Office3. We have interviewed lone welfare mothers and youth, which have problems getting a job. We have also interviewed young workers, older workers, and parents with middleclass background as well as the representatives of the local welfare bureaucracies. We have conducted about 100 interviews.