Exploring the theory–practice dimension of social work
Perceptions of children in the field of child welfare
Keywords:theory and practice; child welfare practice; professional knowledge; narrative analyses; children’s voices
This article presents and discusses how theories inform social work practice and what impact this has on the professional-client relation, specifically how social work professionals perceive children and interpret their possibilities. Data for the analysis to come are drawn from a qualitative study of child welfare services in Norway. The aim of the article is to bring to light how theoretical knowledge as well as social workers´ personal experiences influence the professional work, and consequently parents´ and children’s opportunities to participate. A main finding is that social workers´ interpretations are informed by underlying theoretical frameworks that engender a narrative reasoning, that is, the plots of the parents’ and the children’s past histories, as well as the current situation, provide sense and coherence to professional work and understanding. The analysis focuses on how the social workers perceive the children they deal with, particularly how they acknowledge children´s voices and participation in professional interaction. The empirical examples contribute to expand the horizon of professional practice, in terms of how theoretical perspectives influence and inform everyday practice with service users.
Aadnanes, M., & Gulbrandsen, L. M. (2018). Young people and young adults’ experiences with child abuse and maltreatment: Meaning making, conceptualizations, and dealing with violence. Qualitative Social Work, 17(4), 594-610. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325016683245
Abbott, A. (1988). The System of Professions. The University of Chicago Press.
Al-Ma’seb, H., Alkhurinej, A., & Alduwaihi, M. (2015). The gap between theory and practice in social work. International Social Work, 58(6), 819-830. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872813503860
Barne- og familiedepartementet. (2020). Høringsnotat – Kompetanse i barnevernet. . https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/702b63a92c5243eea4cd68c95b3d0b5a/horingsnotat-om-kompetanse-i-barnevernet1.pdf
Bell, H., & Hydén, M. (2017, March 14). Introducing the Special Issue: Social work and the narrative (half?) turn. Qualitative Social Work, 161-165. https://login.ezproxy.hioa.no/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=122423729&site=ehost-live
Bjerre, L. S., Madsen, O. J., & Petersen, A. (2021). ‘But what are we doing to that baby?’ Attachment, psy-Speak and designed order in social work. European Journal of Social Work (Published online: 11 Jan 2021). https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2020.1870439
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2(3), 77 - 101. https://doi.org/ttps://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Bruner, J. (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical inquiry, 18(1), 1-21.
Bruner, J. (2004). Life as Narrative . Social Research, 71(3), 691-710. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=14829619&site=ehost-live
Bruner, J. S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Harvard University Press.
Burman, E. (2017). Deconstructing developmental psychology (3td ed.). Routledge.
Duschinsky, R., Greco, M., & Solomon, J. (2015). The Politics of Attachment: Lines of Flight with Bowlby, Deleuze and Guattari. Theory, Culture & Society, 32(7-8), 173-195. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276415605577
Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence. Falmer Press.
Ferguson, H. (2017). How Children Become Invisible in Child Protection Work: Findings from Research into Day-to-Day Social Work Practice. The British Journal of Social Work, 47(4), 1007-1023. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw065
Fook, J., Ryan, M., & Hawkins, L. (2000). Professional expertise : practice, theory and education for working in uncertainty. Whiting and Birch.
Gabbay, J., & le May, A. (2016). Mindlines: making sense of evidence in practice. British Journal of General Practice 66, 402-403. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp16X686221
Geertz, C. (1973). "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture". In The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essay. Basic Books.
Giddens, A. (1994). Living in a post-traditional society. In U. Beck, A. Giddens, & S. Lash (Eds.), Reflexive Modernisation: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order (pp. 56-109). Polity Press
Goldstein, H. (1990). The Knowledge Base of Social Work Practice: Theory, Wisdom, Analogue, or Art? Families in Society, 71(1), 32-43.
Hall, C. (1997). Social Work as Narrative. Storytelling and persuasion in professional texts. Ashgate.
Hall, C., Juhila, K., Parton, N., & Pösö, T. (2003). Constructing clienthood in social work and human services: interaction, identities, and practices. Jessica Kingsley.
Hennum, N. M. J. (2012). Children's confidences, parents’ confessions: Child welfare dialogues as technologies of control. Qualitative Social Work, 11(5), 535-549. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325011408175
Howe, D., Brandon, M., Hinings, D., & Schofield, G. (1999). Understanding attachment theory. In: Attachment Theory, Child Maltreatment and Family Support (pp. 12-30). Palgrave, London.
Howe, D. (2008 ). An Introduction to Social Work Theory. Ashgate.
Hunter, K. M. (1991). Doctor´s Stories. The narrative structure of medical knowledge. Princeton University Press.
Hydén, M. (2008). Narrating sensitive topics. In M. Andrews, C. Squire, & M. Tamboukou (Eds.), Doing narrative research (pp. 223-239). Sage Publications.
Kirk, S., & Reid, W. J. (2002). Science and social work. A critical appraisal. Columbia University Press.
Levin, I. (2004). Hva er sosialt arbeid. Universitetsforlaget.
Mishler, E. G. (2006). Narrative and Identity, The double arrow of time. In A. d. Fina, D. Schiffrin, & M. Bamberg (Eds.), Discourse and Identity (pp. 30-47). Cambridge University Press.
Molander, A., & Terum, L. I. (2008). Profesjonsstudier - en introduksjon. In A. Molander & L. I. Terum (Eds.), Profesjonsstudier. Universitetsforlaget.
Munro, E. (2011). The Munro review of child protection: Final report – A child-centered system.. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/175391/Munro-Review.pdf
Munro, E. (2019). Decision‐making under uncertainty in child protection: Creating a just and learning culture. Child & Family Social Work, 24(1), 123-130. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12589
NOU (2012). Bedre beskyttelse av barns utvikling. Ekspertutvalgets utredning om det biologiske prinsipp i barnevernet. https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/nou-2012-5/id671400/
Nygren, L., & Soydan, H. (1997). Social work research and its dependence on practice. International Journal of Social Welfare, 6(3), 217-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2397.1997.tb00191.x
Parton, N. (2000). Some Thoughts on the Relationship between Theory and Practice in and for Social Work. British Journal of Social Work, 30, 449-463.
Payne, M. (2016). Modern social work theory (4th ed.). Oxford University press.
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. State University of New York Press.
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. Qualitative Studies in Education, 8(1), 5-23.
Prout, A., & James, A. (1997). Constructing and reconstructing childhood : contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood ([2nd ] ed.). Falmer Press.
Ricoeur, P. (1980). Narrative time. Critical inquiry, 7(1), 169-190.
Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and narrative. University of Chicago Press.
Riessman, C. K., & Quinney, L. (2005). Narrative in Social Work: A Critical Review. Qualitative Social Work, 4(4), 391-412.
Robertson, A. (2005). Narrativanalys. In G. Bergström & K. Boréus (Eds.), Textens mening och makt. Metodbok i samhällsvetenskaplig text- og diskursanalys. Studentlitteratur.
Ryle, G. (1971). The Thinking of Thoughts. What is ´penseur´ doing? In Collected Papers vol 2. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Sheldon, B. (1978). Theory and practice in social work: a re-examination of tenuous relationship. British Journal of Social Work, 8(1), 1-22. https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article-abstract/8/1/1/1719294?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Stevens, M., Liabo, K., & Roberts, H. (2007). A review of the research priorities of practitioners working with children in social care. Child & Family Social Work, 12(4), 295-305. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2006.00482.x
Taylor, C. (2004). Underpinning knowledge for child care practice: reconsidering child development theory. Child & Family Social Work, 9(3), 225-235. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2004.00330.x
Taylor, C., & White, S. (2000). Practising Reflexivity in Health and Welfare: Making Knowledge. Open University Press.
Taylor, C., & White, S. (2006). Knowledge and reasoning in social work: Educating for humane judgement. British Journal of Social Work, 36(6), 937–954. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch365
Trevithick, P. (2008). Revisiting the Knowledge Base of Social Work: A Framework for Practice. British Journal of Social Work, 38(6), 1212-1237. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcm026
Vindegg, J. (2011). Å forstå en familie. Fortellinger som kunnskapskilde i sosialarbeideres profesjonelle yrkesutøvelse. Senter for profesjonsstudier, Høgskolen i Oslo.
Warming, H., Fjorside, S., & Lavaud, M. A. (2017). Det dobbelte blik. Se styrkerne i det særlige hos børn og unge i udsatte positioner. Akademisk forlag.
Woodhead, M. (1997). Psychology and the cultural Construction of Children`s need. In A. J. A. Prout (Ed.), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood. Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study og Childhood (pp. 54-73). Falmer Press.
How to Cite
We do follow and use the Danish Copyright legislation.