A matter of choice—professionals’ views on the incorporation of practical work with intimate partner violence into Swedish personal social services

  • Lisa Lundberg Stockholm University, Department of Social Work
  • Hugo Stranz Stockholm University, Department of Social Work
Keywords: Intimate partner violence, Domestic violence, Social services, Organisational change


During the last decades, efforts have been made to increase local support provided to victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Sweden. As with other social problems, responsibility to address IPV falls on the municipal personal social services. The present article draws upon data obtained via structured telephone interviews with designated personal social services staff members from a sample of 99 municipalities, focusing on aspects of potential progress in social work with IPV. The results show that successful incorporation of IPV into personal social services largely seems to depend upon the commitment and dedication of individual actors within the organisations. Furthermore, the data indicate that competence in this field depends on personal inclination, with attention to IPV appearing as ‘a matter of choice’. The results are analysed using neo-institutional theory as well as concepts related to social movement studies, with focus on individual agency in organisational change and the potential relevance of IPV as an issue related to gender inequality to gender inequality. The analysis suggests that while IPV social work may challenge institutionalised practises within social services, change may go both ways with IPV being reframed to fit within the established framework of social services.

Author Biographies

Lisa Lundberg, Stockholm University, Department of Social Work
Lisa Lundberg is a doctoral student at the Department of Social Work at Stockholm University. She is exploring the work carried out regarding domestic violence by Swedish personal social services, e g organizational features, interventions, administrative routines and efforts to raise competence.
Hugo Stranz, Stockholm University, Department of Social Work

Hugo Stranz is associate professor of social work at the Department of Social Work at Stockholm University. His research primarily covers various perspectives on practical work in the Swedish personal social services with particular focus on the organization of services, social assistance recipency and the administration of social assistance benefits.


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How to Cite
Lundberg, L., & Stranz, H. (2019). A matter of choice—professionals’ views on the incorporation of practical work with intimate partner violence into Swedish personal social services. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 10(1), 48-65. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2593