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Bild på Anna Rypi. Privat bild.

Anna Rypi

Bild på Anna Rypi. Privat bild.

Välviljans variationer : Moraliska gränsdragningar inom brottsofferjourer


  • Anna Rypi

Summary, in English

Voices from within the victim movement express a need for morality to have fixed boundaries between good and evil, right and wrong. However, such a morality is not always easy to define and uphold. It is thought important to consider the victims particular experiences, through another logic and morality than the strictly legally defined. This dissertation studies victim support as a moral definition process. Moral philosophers tend to give the impression that moral questions are something that people consider dispassionately, in solitude. Here a different, sociological, perspective on morality is adopted. . Instead of taking for granted that we know what a crime victim and a humanitarian volunteer is, the study examines the interactions and definition processes around the social phenomenon voluntary victim support. Rather than viewing morality as an abstract system of values, it is showed how morality is practised co-operatively. Such co-operation may equally be emotionally charged and rationally defined, but above all I view it as intimately linked to the practical and daily contacts of the people involved, in this case the voluntary workers.

My aim is to investigate the process by which a situation and the people involved are officially named and given meaning. However, a definition process is not only accomplished on the level of social policy and ideology. I study the relationship between two levels of definition: how participants uphold meaning, establishing the crime victims as a group deserving special sympathy and support; and negotiate meaning, defining who should be seen as a victim in terms of their support work, deciding how each individual should be supported, and who is friend or foe in the struggle to define and solve the problem.

Definitions are not final, but are part of a continuous negotiation process, a fact highlighted in the interactionist and constructionist analysis I present. I link these sociological perspectives to my qualitative data, mainly drawn from interviews and participant observations, to arrive at something new: a concept of the victim path. The idea of a victim path stems from the changes in identity someone who has been affected by crime is presumed to undergo. However, it also refers to the various roles the support workers supposedly take within the process. I have concentrated on how the moral career of the crime victims is connected to the moral careers of humanitarian volunteers. To become a support worker one has to be screened, given a brief training, and be supervised; all demonstrate a professional control exerted over the voluntary role.


  • Sociology

Publishing year





Lund Dissertations in Sociology



Document type



Department of Sociology, Lund University


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • theory of social work
  • Social changes
  • Sociology
  • Criminology
  • crises
  • emotion work
  • voluntary work
  • crime victim support
  • interaction
  • morality
  • definition process
  • Care and help to handicapped
  • Social psychology
  • teorier om socialt arbete
  • Sociala förändringar
  • Sociologi
  • Kriminologi
  • Handikappade
  • vård och rehabilitering
  • Socialpsykologi




  • Malin Åkerström


  • ISSN: 1102-4712
  • ISBN: 91-7267-188-2
  • ISRN: LUSADG/SASO/05/1165/SE

Defence date

7 October 2005

Defence time


Defence place

Kulturens auditorium, Lund


  • Ingrid Sahlin (Docent)