Storytelling among child welfare social workers: constructing professional role and resilience through team talk

Cook, Laura (2019) Storytelling among child welfare social workers: constructing professional role and resilience through team talk. Qualitative Social Work. ISSN 1473-3250

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Abstract

Child welfare social work is emotive and demanding work, requiring highly-skilled and resilient practitioners. In a context of austerity, increased public scrutiny and accountability, defensive practice has been identified as a feature of professional practice. However, little is known about the processes through which social workers develop resilience or come to adopt a defensive stance in managing the demands of their work. This article focuses on professional storytelling among child welfare social workers. It examines how social workers to construct their professional role through team talk, and the implications of this for our understanding of professional resilience and defensiveness. Drawing on an in-depth narrative analysis of focus groups with social work teams, eight story types are identified in social workers’ talk about their work: emotional container stories, solidarity stories, professional epiphanies, professional affirmation stories, partnership stories, parables of persistence, tales of courageous practice and cautionary tales. Each story type foregrounds a particular aspect of child welfare practice, containing a moral about social work with vulnerable children and families. The article concludes with the implications of these stories for our understanding of both resilience and the pull towards defensiveness in child welfare social work.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2019 08:30
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2020 01:05
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/71831
DOI: 10.1177/1473325019865014

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