Retssikkerhed som rationalitetsmyte: Administrativ praksis inden for det sociale klagesystem

  • Turf Böcker Jakobsen


The Notion of Legal Rights as a Rationalized Myth: Administrative Proceedings in the Social Appeals System The social appeals system is expected to safeguard the legal rights of Danish citizens, a task it shares with other bodies that deal with complaints about public decision-making. However an ethnographic inquiry into the actual proceedings of the appeals system reveals that this objective is rather ambiguous. The notion of legal rights does not provide officials with a common set of guidelines regarding the criteria for social casework. This is illustra-ted in the article by a case concerning the rights of immi-grants to choose a permanent residence. The case was followed in two different organizational settings, regional and national. Different conceptions of the basic goal of the appeals system seem to prevail in these settings. At the regional level, emphasis is on safeguarding the (human) rights of individuals. At the national level, more attention is paid towards securing a general state of legal unifor-mity. The concept of legal rights therefore fails to offer a sociological understanding of the administrative procee-dings of the appeals system. The article suggests that the notion of legal rights may instead be seen as a rationalized myth, a term taken from the new institutionalism. As such, legal rights do not refer directly to actual proceedings, but are exceedingly important in explaining and legitimizing the presence of the appeals system in more general societal terms.