New research on social identites of impaired workers and professionals

Tone Alm Andreassen and Per Koren Solvang have published an article in Sociology of Health and Illness about the social identities invoked by mpaired workers and professionals in health care and employment services. It can be accessed HERE.


For persons with a long‐term illness or impairment, return‐to‐work decisions involve considerations about work capacity, opportunities in the labour market, the impact of injuries, further treatment requirements, physical and cognitive rehabilitation, and mental health recovery. These considerations are undertaken by the affected individuals as well as by professionals in health care and employment services. Drawing upon institutional theories of organisations, especially the understanding that institutional logics provide different social identities to injured individuals, we study rehabilitation processes following multi‐trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI) within the Scandinavian welfare model. We identify which social identities are activated in professionals’ considerations and in the stories of the injured individuals. The aim is to understand how professionals’ reasoning about the clients’ problems influences return‐to‐work processes. Our primary finding is that the wageworker identity, invoked by the injured individuals themselves, is subordinated by the professionals to the logic of profession and the associated patient identity. Consequently, not only is impaired people’s anti‐discrimination right to reasonably adjusted work ignored, ignored is also a possible resource in the rehabilitation process. Additionally, individuals who view themselves as wageworkers tend to be left unserved.