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The pursuit of standardization in domestic violence social work: A multiple case study of how the idea of using risk assessment tools is manifested and processed 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: 0000-0002-0463-4014
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
2017 (English)In: Qualitative Social Work, ISSN 1473-3250, E-ISSN 1741-3117Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This multiple case study examines how the idea of using risk assessment tools is manifested and processed in Swedish social services. Based on the analysis of interviews with different stakeholders and of organizational documents in two social service organizations, we investigate the actors who control local risk assessment practices. The findings illustrate that a relatively small group of social workers in the organizations have been able to forward their claims and decide how risk assessment work should be carried out without much intrusion from local managers or politicians. The findings also validate other studies that found that increased standardization can strengthen social workers’ ability to perform their professional task rather than lead to de-professionalization. This article ends with a discussion of what risk assessment practices might mean for domestic violence victims.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017.
Keyword [en]
Domestic violence, risk, social work practice, risk assessment, jurisdiction, control
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-68602DOI: 10.1177/1473325017739461OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-68602DiVA, id: diva2:1154693
Available from: 2017-11-03 Created: 2017-11-03 Last updated: 2018-03-22
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
Keyword
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, MikaelAgevall Gross, LottaKjellgren, CeciliaDenvall, Verner

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