In modern, neo‐liberal societies like Denmark, social welfare and medical treatment are provided to individuals who ‘take ownership’ of their problems. Thus, sickness benefits are given to people who suffer from their ‘own illnesses,’ not to people with diffuse, chronic pains ‘of the whole person.’ This article presents findings from a qualitative research project into how power relates to identity negotiations among social workers and medical doctors who are dealing with patients who lack a bio‐medical identity. The analysis shows that social workers and doctors have swapped roles in their negotiation with patients and that the new roles can be related to structural elements such as the law and discursively produced understandings of what it is to be a ‘patient.’

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