Personal and Professional Encompassment in Organizational Capacity Building

SOS Children’s Villages and Supportive Housing

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Restricted access

This article examines how institutions mobilize the transitive capacity of concepts and categories to articulate and fulfil their professional functions. In my analysis, I draw on the everyday institutional practices of two organizations, SOS Children’s Villages and Supportive Housing, to illustrate how personal and professional domains are intertwined. Through ethnographic vignettes, I argue that organizational capacities to shape the social in the domain of caring work are achieved through the knowledge practices of professionals and experts, as they negotiate the ‘mothering’ and ‘home’. The institutions studied, in fulfilling personal roles for individual clients, ‘step in’ for the absence of other persons. Such person-oriented goals pose challenges to organizational practices and professional values, ultimately straining the capacities of these institutions to sustain themselves.