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The standardizers: social workers' role when implementing assessment tools in the Swedish social services
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2655-2132
2018 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 8, no 1, p. 88-99Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Standardisation and standards are common in the modern world, including in social work. This article focuses on social workers who implement the assessment tool Children’s needs in focus (Barns behov i centrum BBIC) in Swedish social work with children and families. Inspired by ‘siblings’ in the UK, the National Board of Health and Welfare has developed and supported the implementation of the BBIC. From the start, the implementation strategy was to engage well-educated and experienced social workers as educators. The article studies these educators (standardizers) as mediators between national imperatives and local practice during the implementation of the BBIC in the social services. Based on interviews with 10 BBIC educators, three standardizer roles were identified: the instrumental, the adaptive and the transformative. These roles affect the practice of social work in potentially different ways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018. Vol. 8, no 1, p. 88-99
Keywords [en]
Standardisation, social work, professionalism, implementation, BBIC
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61918DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2017.1309678OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-61918DiVA, id: diva2:1085112
Available from: 2017-03-28 Created: 2017-03-28 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Uppdrag standardisering: införande och användning av manualbaserade utrednings- och bedömningsverktyg i socialtjänsten
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Uppdrag standardisering: införande och användning av manualbaserade utrednings- och bedömningsverktyg i socialtjänsten
2018 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses the issue of standardization in social work. Standardization is a necessary and fascinating, though underestimated, phenomenon, which governs, regulates and calibrates social life. In Swedish social services, we have witnessed an increased use of top-down imposed manual-based tools for investigative and assessment work. In human service organisations, such as social services, this raises questions about social workers’ control in terms of how work should be executed as well as the implications of standardization for professional discretion. The aim of this thesis is to investigate and understand standardization as a phenomenon, focusing on its consequences for social work as a profession and a field of practice.The thesis consists of four papers investigating the implementation and execution of manual-based assessment tools (BBIC, FREDA and SARA) in social services. The empirical material is based on interviews with a total of 68 social workers, managers, politicians and officials as well as documents and observations of risk assessment events. Each paper results from the analysis of an exclusive data set, with the concepts used in the analysis coming from theories of professions and organisations.The results show that increased standardization is a way for social workers to seek legitimacy as well as to claim jurisdiction and increase professionalism. The execution of the tools in social work is conditioned by significant key implementation factors in organisational contexts as well as the compatibility between the construction of tools and users’ needs and expectations. Along with previous research and theory, the results from the four papers are used to develop a tentative taxonomy of different discretionary positions that social workers can take with regards to standards in their practice. Those positions illustrate that it is not straightforward how the increased standardization of investigative and assessment work will impact professional discretion. It is argued that a balance between standardization and professional discretion is possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linnaeus University Press, 2018. p. 93
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 316
Keywords
standardization, social work, profession, assessments, discretion, jurisdiction
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-71738 (URN)978-91-88761-48-4 (ISBN)978-91-88761-47-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-04-13, Växjö, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-22 Created: 2018-03-22 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Skillmark, MikaelDenvall, Verner

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