The study of ‘risk’ in social work involves complex interplay between human behaviour, emotion, evidence of fact, professional values and organisational systems. This book brings together contributions from key social work researchers and theorists from the UK, USA, New Zealand and Italy, writing with a focus on aspects of risk within social work. It examines key debates concerning risk in contemporary social work practice, including ethical dilemmas, approaches to decision-making and the challenges of ignorance and errors. Contributions range from the perennial challenges of how one uses formal knowledge when assessing risk to emerging risks arising from the counterterrorism agenda. This book will enable practitioners, policy makers and researchers to appreciate the complexities of risk in different settings and apply this understanding to their own practice.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Understanding Risk in Social Work Andrew Whittaker and Brian Taylor
1. Avoidable Ignorance and the Ethics of Risk in Child Welfare Eileen Gambrill
2. In Defence of Actuarialism: Interrogating the Logic of Risk in Social Work Practice Mark Hardy
3. Comparing Risk-Averse and Risk-Friendly Practitioners in Child Welfare Decision-Making: A Mixed Methods Study Emily Keddell
4. Making Sense of the Initial Home Visit: The Role of Intuition in Child and Family Social Workers’ Assessments of Risk Laura L. Cook
5. Mental Health Act Assessments – Professional Narratives on Alternatives to Hospital Admission Peter Hall
6. ‘Risk is King and Needs to take a Backseat!’ Can Social Workers’ Experiences of Moral Injury Strengthen Practice? Jane Fenton and Timothy B. Kelly
7. A Risky Time for Muslim Families: Professionalised Counter-Radicalisation Networks Tony Stanley, Surinder Guru and Vicki Coppock
8. Reflective Practice, Risk and Mistakes in Social Work Alessandro Sicora
Andrew Whittaker is an Associate Professor of Social Work at London South Bank University, UK, where he is the Head of the Risk, Resilience and Expert Decision Making research group. His research focuses on child protection and the risks faced by young people in cities.
Brian Taylor is a Professor of Social Work at Ulster University, Coleraine, UK, where he leads the Decision, Assessment, Risk and Evidence Studies research cluster. He is the author of Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work (2013, 3rd ed) and Understanding and Using Research in Social Work (with Anne McGlade and Campbell Killick, 2015).