Maria Johansson: I samtal med Kronofogden: Hur myndighetsservice görs i språkliga möten mellan inringare och kundservicehandläggare

  • Datum: 9 februari 2024, kl. 10.15
  • Plats: Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala
  • Typ: Disputation
  • Respondent: Maria Johansson
  • Opponent: Hedda Söderlundh
  • Handledare: Björn Melander, Susanna Karlsson
  • Forskningsämne: Nordiska språk
  • DiVA


This thesis explores the interaction between frontline service officials and clients in customer service calls to the Swedish Enforcement Authority (SEA), a national government agency working with debts. The aim is to shed light on these service calls as interactional, meaning-making encounters between callers and frontline service officials. A sub-aim is to gain an understanding of how the SEA’s mission and core values are interpreted, balanced and implemented in conversation. 

Drawing on the theoretical and methodological framework of Conversation Analysis (CA), the thesis investigates how communication between SEA frontline officials and clients unfolds, and how institutional regulations, norms and relationships are invoked and negotiated. The data consists of audio recordings of 113 naturally occurring phone calls to the SEA’s centralised customer service. 

The four analytical chapters explore different aspects of the interactional encounters. First, the openings of the encounters are analysed, focusing on how callers achieve service, and how the participants orient to serviceability and legitimacy. Secondly, the analysis addresses how factual information from the SEA’s institutional records is accessed, handled and responded to by the participants. In this way, the analysis illustrates how the participants display epistemic stances, and how the SEA’s mission to provide information, and to activate and educate clients, is translated into practice. Thirdly, frontline service officials’ explanations of a key SEA process are studied, revealing how the participants’ intersubjectivity is established, challenged and negotiated. Fourthly and finally, an analysis of how call takers recommend future courses of action to callers is presented, which demonstrates how the participants’ deontic rights to decide on future actions are allocated in the customer service calls. 

In sum, the thesis brings to light what happens in conversations between callers and frontline service officials at the SEA. More specifically, the thesis offers insights into how institutional remits shape frontline interaction, as well as how laws, guidelines and policies are talked into being. In addition to expanding our knowledge of language and social interaction in government agencies, the key findings of the thesis may have an impact on professional development within the SEA, thereby benefiting both frontline officials and clients.