Sailing on self-management: Organizing empowerment in an institutional setting

Max Axel Huber

    Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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    Ten years ago, Je Eigen Stek (Your Own Place, JES) started as a grass roots initiative from people who were homeless. The initiators did not want to be homeless anymore, including the extreme forms of existential insecurity that is part of being homeless. They did not have a place in regular shelters, both literally and figuratively. Literally, because there was a shortage in beds, especially for people with severe psychiatric or substance abuse issues. Figuratively, they felt there was little room to end their homelessness in their own way, making their own choices and employing their own capacities. Therefore, they started their own self-managed shelter, facilitated by social workers and HVO-Querido, a homeless care provider. JES is founded on the premise that regular shelters offer to little freedom of choice and that homeless people are better able to manage a shelter themselves. Over the last ten years, Max Huber has studied this premise, together with JES and others. He spoke to participants, peer workers, social workers and other stakeholders and organized focus groups, observations and participatory action research. In this thesis, he described the results from this engaged research. While JES was not all things, for all men, JES was many things for many people, by offering practical benefits, freedom of choice and opportunities for capacity development. JES’ intrinsic contradictions force participants, peer workers, social workers and others involved to rethink self-management continuously. The power of groups of participants to reinvent themselves, start over and find new ways to deal with the challenges and opportunities offered is a constant source of amazement for others involved. JES remains a case with a great deal of learning potential, for empowerment of participants, for (normative) professionalization of social workers and peer workers and for all those interested in the organization of empowerment processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    • Abma, Tineke, Supervisor, External person
    • van Regenmortel, M.R.F., Supervisor, External person
    • Stam, M., Co-supervisor, External person
    • Metze, Rosalie Nicole, Co-supervisor, External person
    Award date10 Mar 2021
    Place of Publications.l.
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021


    • Community care
    • Empowerment
    • Homelessness
    • Institutional care
    • Participatory state
    • Peer work
    • Self-help
    • Self-management
    • Self-organized care
    • Social work


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