Language Practices in Social Work : Categorisation and Accountability in Child Welfare book cover
1st Edition

Language Practices in Social Work
Categorisation and Accountability in Child Welfare

ISBN 9780415356879
Published March 30, 2006 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Analysis of language and discourse in social sciences has become increasingly popular over the past thirty years. Only very recently has it been applied to the study of social work, despite the fact that communication and language are central to social work practice.

This book looks at how social workers, their clients and other professionals categorise and manage the problems of social work in ways which are rendered understandable, accountable and which justify professional intervention. Features include:

  • studies of key practice areas in social work, such as interviews, case conferences, home visits
  • analysis of the language and construction used in typical case studies of everyday social work practice
  • exploration of the ways in which professionals can examine their own practice and uncover the discursive, narrative and rhetorical methods that they use.

The purpose of this engaging study is to increase awareness of language and discourse in order to help develop better practice in social work. It is essential reading for professionals in social work, child welfare and the human services and will be a valuable contribution to the study of professional language and communication.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Categorisation and Accountability in Professional Texts and Talk  3. Collegial Communication in Policy Review Interviews  4. Inter-professional Decision-making in a Case Conference  5. Negotiating Roles in a Home Visit  6. Reporting Events in Case Notes  7. The Client’s Account of a Social Work Intervention  8. Justifying Action in a Public Inquiry  9. Narrative Transformation in Media Reporting  10. Conclusion

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Christopher Hall is Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Applied Childhood Studies, University of Huddersfield, UK. Stef Slembrouck is Professor of English Linguistics and Discourse Analysis, University of Ghent, Belgium. Srikant Sarangi is Professor of Language and Communication, and Director of the Health Communication Research Centre, Cardiff University, UK.


"This is a discussion of discourse and narrative analysis well worth perusing. While the book might be particularly appealing to those interested in linguistic issues in social work, it is also a study of the communication challenges presented by engagement in the social work profession, but most particularly, in child welfare work. The book has important implications for practitioners in the statutory system." -European Journal of Social Work

"This book is a good example of how qualitative research and analysis is done. It uses transcripts from interviews, case conferences and reports from media and subjects them to discourse analysis, which is very informative and insightful."-Ismaeil Fazel, Journal of Language and Politics, University of British Columbia