Habilitation in focus: A human service organization and its challenges

Ulla Bohlin

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

1561 Downloads (Pure)


This dissertation explores intervention practices for children and young persons with developmental disabilities. It focuses especially health and medically related services provided by the local children habilitation centres (CHC: s), where everyday services are carried out by interprofessional teams of habilitation specialists.
The objective was to critically examine the CHC as a human service organization. How did professionals describe their work and the methods of treatment that they made use of? How could their conceptions be explained ? The purpose was also to explore whether and in what way the recently introduced training method of conductive education (CE) has influenced the habilitation work at the CHC: s.
The qualitative study was carried out inspired by a social constructionist perspective of the phenomenon of habilitation. Organizational theory and in particular neo-institutional organizational theory offered an analytical instrument. The empirical material consisted of observations of the ongoing habilitation work: interviews with professionals (25 interviewees); 13 interviews with key informants involved in the discussion about conductive education; observations and interviews with staff and families at training centres for CE.
Closely studied, the main tasks of the CHC: s reveal important dilemmas and ambiguities. Three (main) themes have been used to structure the problems:
1)Frames of interpretation of the assignment; 2) Issues of influence; 3) Issues of competence and occupational qualification.
In CHC: s, the opaque meaning of the habilitation concept can be used to handle the tension between the social and the medical logics and traditions, it can be a tool to claim jurisdiction for the habilitation experts; it can enlarge the areas of discretion for them and strengthen the legitimacy of the organization. When CE is offered as a complement/ alternative to habilitation services, this is an incitement for the habilitation organization to stress the qualities of the habilitation model. Gate-keeping and doing boundary work within the organization and in relation to the outer world are also important issues that are brought up by the interviewees.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • School of Social Work
  • Meeuwisse, Anna, Supervisor
Award date2009 May 8
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2009-05-08
Time: 10:15
Place: Ingvar Kamprad Designcentrum, IKDC
External reviewer(s)
Name: Barron, Karin
Title: Associate professor
Affiliation: Department of Sociology, Uppsala University

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work

Free keywords

  • Human service organization
  • Conductive education
  • Interprofessional team work
  • Habilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Habilitation in focus: A human service organization and its challenges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this