‘Deemed to personal development’ contributes to the growing area of research on the encounter between the system and the client as it is carried out in the practical social work. With a point of departure in concrete meetings between clients and social workers in two rehabilitation centers, Nanna Mik-Meyer demonstrates how social workers’ categorization of a client and the issue situation of the client is inextricably tied to the organizational context that frames the meeting.  

The analyses of the book exhibits how the client identities that the social workers apply – such as ‘set in their ways’, ‘moveable’, ‘qualified for retirement’, ‘illness fixated’, etc. – reveal the goals and methods with which our welfare organizations operate.  

The title of the book points to how the negotiation of clients’ identities takes place within a treatment discourse that is based on the idea that personal development per definition is a good thing. Clients who do not wish to grow personally – or in any way resist the individual-focused treatment at the rehabilitation center – are categorized as ‘refusing’ or are assigned other negative identities that retain the clients as problematic people.  

In addition to detailed analyses of the encounter between clients and social workers, the book firstly contains a pedagogically founded theoretical chapter that – with a point of departure in a symbolic interactionist perspective – discusses the concepts of ‘identity’ and ‘categorizing’, and secondly, a thorough discussion of the methodological considerations of Nanna Mik-Meyer regarding her field work.  

The book is directed towards students at the socially specialized studies and the colleges of social education, students at the university institutes where there is conducted research in welfare institutions, and for the practitioners of social work.