Theorising worker–client relations in front‐line service work: Understanding the experience of non‐professionally affiliated workers in UK mental health services

Stephen Procter*, Deborah Harrison, Pauline Pearson, Claire Dickinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of front-line service workers’ experience of the worker–client relationship. It is based on a series of in-depth interviews with non-professionally affiliated workers in new front-line roles in UK mental health services. The findings cover three main areas: worker motivation and orientation; the nature of the worker–client relationship; and the role played in the relationship by the structure of work and relationships with colleagues. Evidence is found to support the use of the framework of Korczynski (Sociology, 43, 2009), but the research also suggests ways in which each of the framework's elements might be developed. It is argued that the idea of ‘caring’ is in need of refinement; that worker–client relations should not be seen solely in terms of client sovereignty and that a focus on the technical organisation of work can only go some way towards providing an understanding of the worker experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-145
Number of pages22
JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
Volume37
Issue number1
Early online date1 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

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