The epistemic value of anger in social work

Välkommen till Practice Research Talks Webinar online 10.11 klockan 10–11.30 (EET)

Biträdande professor Merete Monrad från Aalborgs universitet håller en keynote föreläsning på Zoom med temat

The epistemic value of anger in social work

Specialforskare Pia Eriksson från Institutet för Hälsa och välfärd kommenterar föreläsningen.

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Merete Monrad: The epistemic value of anger in social work

We live in a time popularly framed as the “Age of anger”, a time where promises of freedom, equality and prosperity are combined with massive disparities of power and status which gives way to feelings of resentment and anger (Mishra 2017). At the same time, righteous anger is increasingly called for and celebrated across the political spectrum (Rosenwein 2020). While anger may have moved to the center of the political stage, anger in everyday life and bureaucratic encounters is still framed by what Wouters (2004) termed a controlled decontrolling: while emotions can be expressed more openly and uncensored, emotional control is increasingly important. Users of social interventions are often expected to display feelings of shame and gratitude and to be collaborative and humble. Hence, anger is most often suppressed in social work encounters. But what happens if we take the lid off the box? In this speech, I discuss the potentials of user anger to inform social work practice and research.


Merete Monrad is associate professor at Aalborg University and part of the research group WISER. Her research is focused on emotions, temporality, and user participation in social work. She has conducted several studies on social work in different fields of practice (childcare, eldercare and employment services), focusing in particular on service-user participation, emotional labour and feeling rules, and development of practice through disagreement. She is currently studying user experiences of employment services with a focus on emotions and temporality.

Pia Eriksson (DSocSci) is a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. Her research focuses on child welfare and she has a special interest in out-of-home care. At the moment she conducting a study  within the ACElife project, on short-term effectiveness of residential care for children and youth. Her previous research has been related to adoption, the wellbeing and experiences of children in care, user perspectives and social work practices.