Listening to the Welfare State presents, for the first time in English, central research findings from recent studies of the welfare systems of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The book's contributors are leading investigators of face-to-face encounters between welfare professionals and clients in these systems. All have collected their data through ethnographic observations as well as taped recordings of these meetings. By subjecting their data to conversation and discourse analyses, these researchers provide a richly detailed empirical picture of the various forms of talk-at-work constituting the core activity of a variety of street-level bureaucracies. Their findings provide a well-rounded body of knowledge about what happens when professionals meet persons seeking financial assistance, child protection, employment, vocational counselling, treatment, rehabilitation and related services. Essential reading for both professional and students, this book will provide a wealth of insights into and understandings of, the micro-level workings of welfare state systems.