The new welfare professions are often linked to the enlargement of the welfare state and the extension of social rights. Recently, this story has become more complex. The increasing prevalence of New Public Management (NPM) in state regulation sets a new discursive (meta) context for groups aspiring to rewrite themselves as being professional. Based on an empirical analysis of the development of the politico-administrative discourse concerning Danish home helpers, I argue that a new discursive ideal of the professional, the specialised generalist, has emerged. This ideal unites the contradictory poles of the generalist and the specialist. This re-imagination in the politico-administrative discourse provides input into both the contemporary, general, theoretical debates about the postmodern professional as well as, more specifically, contributing to the theorization of the welfare professions. The re-imagination presents a strategic opening for groups aspiring to become welfare professionals. This paradise, however, also contains some dangers. Key words: welfare professions, specialised generalist, home help, discourse, feminist.
Knowledge, Work and Society, 2005, Vol 3, Issue 2, p. 6-24