Fra rationalitet til potentialisering: En semantisk analyse af førtidspension og rehabiliteringsteamet som potentialiseringsmaskine

Anne Roland Hollbaum & Karen Marie Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis investigates the semantic change in welfare policies and more specifically the emergence of potentiality management within the disability pension system in Denmark. The thesis applies Niklas Luhmann’s System Theory approach and through second order observations of the semantics regarding disability pension, we observe a fundamental transformation in the Danish welfare system – from rationality to potentiality – and consequently a shift in the way policy reforms, during the past fifty years, constitutes pension rights, the notion of public care and the view on disabled individuals. The central problem for this thesis is: How can we observe a semantic change from rationality to potentiality within social- and employment policies? And which implications does this change have for disabled individuals and their pension rights? The development in welfare policies from what Max Weber defined as rational, predictable, efficient and calculable public administration to flexible, future-oriented and potentiality-seeking administration also indicates a move from rational law - over judicial discretion and reflexive law - to hybrid law. Our observations will show that hybrid law is constituted by its constant search for ways to postpone judicial decision. What our observation also shows is that the very function of hybrid law makes administration unpredictable and irrational for individuals claiming disability pension. With the latest disability pension reform from 2013, we witness the culmination of past years social and employment policy reforms characterized by a manifestation of potentiality administration. The intention of the reform is to minimize access to disability pension and instead through an interdisciplinary and individualized approach empower and mobilize disabled to employment and selfreliance. The technology put in place to do this is the Rehabilitation Team in each municipality - an interdisciplinary constellation that we call potentiality machines. Through a semantic analysis of practice in three Rehabilitation Teams, the thesis also investigates how Rehabilitation Teams handles the communication regarding pension rights, care and possibilities by activating and conditioning functional codes of communication in particular ways. The analysis shows that standardized practice and universal rights is rejected in favour of individualized practice and local interpretations of law making practice unpredictable and irrational for the citizen in question. The objection of this thesis is to give the reader insights to the changes in policies regarding disability pension – how central concepts has been redefined and too offer new knowledge about the influence policy reforms has on practice and how this has implications for the disabled.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages121