Development of a standardized social service pathway for children with complex cerebral palsy

The social production of disability


  • Louise Bøttcher Aarhus University
  • Ole Christensen Neurocenter Østerskoven, Hobro
  • Charlotte R Pedersen Lukashuset, The Saint Luke´s Foundation, Copenhagen,
  • Derek John Curtis dRUBRIC (Research Unit on Brain Injury Rehabilitation), Department of Neurorehabilitation, TBI Unit, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen


Social service pathways, Dialectical disability approach, Cerebral Palsy, Welfare, Standardization, Disability, Social organization


From a cultural-historical perspective, the impairments of a child with a condition like cerebral palsy (CP) have biological origins, but the disability evolves from the mismatch between the child and his/her social conditions for development (Vygotsky, 1993). One example of this dialectical production of disability can be seen in the challenge of the 21st-century welfare state: How to provide economically feasible health and educational services anchored in evidence-based methods and practices. Standardized social service pathways for children with CP illustrates an attempt to address this challenge and moderate the mismatch by acting in the intersection between impairment and society. The aim of the article is to analyze challenges in the practice of connecting research and practice-based knowledge with societal practices in order to diminish the disability of the child. A multidisciplinary group assembled by the Danish National Board of Social Services engaged in a practice of developing a guideline for a social service pathway. Agendas and minutes from their series of meetings provide insight in how the work evolved through conflictual discussions. Rather than a neutral transformation of knowledge into practice, the practice revealed itself as a value-laden process in which the needs of the child and family were at times decentred and the focus shifted to how social services could be realised in complex, structured social practices. While the group managed to overcome several conflicts and agree of a social service pathway, a socio-economic analysis was unable to argue for the comprehensive social service pathway as an economic sound choice for municipal decision-makers. The conflict between the welfare ideology and economic feasibility remains unresolved and can be expected to limit the extent that impairments can be remedied and the mismatch decreased. Overcoming or diminishing the mismatch might never become economic worthwhile. As the political pendulum oscillates between welfare and economic concerns, the experience of disability will likewise diminish or expand.


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How to Cite

Bøttcher, L., Christensen, O., Pedersen, C. R., & Curtis, D. J. . (2021). Development of a standardized social service pathway for children with complex cerebral palsy: The social production of disability. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 22(1), 103–137. Retrieved from