The Collective Practice of Calculation: Decision-making in Child Protection Work

Ida Schrøder

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The calculation of costs plays an increasingly large role in the decision-making processes of public sector human service organizations. This has brought scholars of management accounting to investigate the relationship between caring professions and demands to make economic entities of the service productions as either a process of hybridization or conflict. With these approaches, though, they fail to interrogate the possibility that professional action might not be either the one or the other, but entail a broad variety of relationships between calculations and judgements. This paper elaborates on the idea that professions are hybrids by introducing the notion of qualculation as an entry point to investigate decision-making in child protection work as an extreme case of calculating on the basis of other elements than quantitative numbers. The analysis reveals that it takes both calculation and judgement to reach decisions to invest in social services. The line is not drawn between the two, but between the material arrangements that make decisions possible. This implies that the insisting on qualitatively based decisions gives the professionals agency to collectively engage in practical arrangements that affords calculations of both qualitative measures of the individual case and distant accounting numbers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventDecisions, Outcome & Change: Nordic FORSA/NOUSA Conference - Professionshøjskolen Metropol , København, Denmark
Duration: 7 Nov 20169 Nov 2016


ConferenceDecisions, Outcome & Change
LocationProfessionshøjskolen Metropol
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