Managing role expectations and emotions in encounters with extremism: Norwegian social workers’ experiences
|Managing role expectations and emotions in encounters with extremism: Norwegian social workers’ experiences|
Social work, prevention, violent extremism, role conflicts, emotion management
To prevent radicalisation and violent extremism, many European countries have adopted a multiagency approach, consisting of both police, teachers and social workers. Such strategies have caused concern for a securitization of social policy and stigmatization of vulnerable groups. This study aims at gaining insight into how Norwegian social workers involved in prevention work against violent extremism experience and manage role conflicts and emotions during interaction with their clients. This article presents findings from 17 individual and two focus group interviews which indicate that social workers experience emotional strain caused by role conflicts and emotional dissonance within a securitized field of social work. To handle these challenges, social workers apply a dynamic combination of surface and deep acting strategies, at both the reactive and proactive level, such as ‘Keeping a brave face’, ‘Character acting’ and ‘Adopting the client’s perspective’. Our findings contribute to expanding both the empirical and conceptual understanding of emotion management at work, and provides a novel insight into how prevention work against violent extremism is perceived by social workers. Also, in a field influenced by security rhetoric, our study gives encouraging new knowledge about how social workers can resist falling into oppressive and controlling practices by seeking to engage with and understand their clients’ human side, and relate this to their own lives.