Abstract: (Withdrawn) Disentangling Institutional Logics: Municipal Public Safety and the Logics of Punishment and Care (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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(Withdrawn) Disentangling Institutional Logics: Municipal Public Safety and the Logics of Punishment and Care

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Valley of the Sun B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Matthew Bakko, MSW, MA, PhD Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Background/Purpose: Scholarship on organizational hybridity and institutional logics—institutionally derived rules, norms, cultural schemas, and practices that are brought together by organizations and individuals and serve as sources for multiple goals—is often concerned with how different logics become increasingly intertwined in fields and organizations (Battilana et al., 2017; Ocasio et al., 2017; Skelcher & Smith, 2015). Few studies have focused on the disruption of already intertwined logics, and these tend to examine it at a longitudinal, macro-field level (Dunn & Jones, 2010; Reay et al., 2021), or in contrast, in terms of how micro-level individual actors de-identify with a logic (Toubiana, 2020).

Responding to this dearth, this paper introduces a conceptual framework for institutional logic “disentangling,” an organizationally situated process where logics that previously enjoyed some level of relational compatibility, settlement, or even interdependence transition to a state where their relationality is contested and dismantled (see Nicolini et al., 2016; Raynard, 2016). A change in institutional logic configurations is suggested by the increasing national and local attention on police violence and related attempts to reorganize municipal public safety: efforts to reorganize community safety through defunding the police are simultaneous with calls to invest greater resources into social services. This change involves disentangling policing from social services, and institutional logics of punishment from those of care, in fields of public safety where they have long been intertwined (e.g., therapeutic support combined with punitive sanctions for perceived non-compliance of those receiving services).

Methods: Comparative case studies were conducted of two cities that reorganized municipal public safety by defunding the police. Virtual ethnography of municipal processes took place over 21 months. Additionally, 50 qualitative interviews were conducted with relevant actors, including city officials, social service administrators and providers, police, funders, and social movement activists. In line with a pattern inducing analytical approach (Reay & Jones, 2016), ethnographic observation and interviews were analyzed together to understand the contextual construction, characteristics, and change of the institutional logics under consideration.

Results: Qualitative analysis of data revealed four institutional logics of public safety—punishment, and three care-based logics, including individual treatment, structural prevention, and community-based—that disentangled in fields and were negotiated by organizational actors. The process by which logic disentangling was negotiated in organizations was related to multiple factors, including responsiveness to racial oppression, organizational ties to the state, organizational identity, and the professional and personal attributes of organizational actors, among others. A conceptual framework was developed to advance theory on institutional logic disentangling through organizational-level factors and processes.

Conclusions/Implications: This paper adds to our understanding of the institutionally complex and organizationally mediated relations between logics. A focus on disentangling provides insight into how novel institutional arrangements are fostered when fields and organizations dismantle existing arrangements. This paper highlights the different ways that logic separation is a distinct or similar process to other hybrid logic relations. Through examining institutional logic change processes related to public safety and social services, this paper contributes to conversations in social work on “undoing” or “dismantling” institutional oppressions.