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Title: An ecology of judgement : sense-making in child welfare and protection social work
Author: Helm, Duncan L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2205
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis is submitted for the award of PhD by publication. It comprises four interconnected, published research papers linked by a contextualising narrative. The publications are all peer-reviewed research articles published between 2012 and 2017 in relevant UK journals. I am the sole author of three of the papers and first author of one paper. My thesis considers how social workers make sense of complex and uncertain information in child welfare and protection social work. My first paper considers the how an understanding of human judgement and sense-making can influence social worker's capacity of child-focused thinking. My synthesis of the literature indicated that social workers' styles of judgement are strongly bounded or influenced by external factors such as complexity of information and time available to make decisions. It is this "bounded" model of rationality which I have employed to provide the theoretical and conceptual framework for this thesis. I have included two papers exploring data which I collected in a non-participatory ethnographic study of social workers' sense-making in a local authority children and families team. These papers represent a valuable contribution to current understandings of social work sense-making. This naturalistic study identified a number of key themes and processes in sense-making which are directly relevant to developing and maintaining best practice. The final paper was developed over the period of my PhD studies. The paper builds on existing research and develops theories of bounded rationality into a conceptual model which I have referred to as an "Ecology of Judgement" for child welfare and protection social work. By modelling the complex interplay between the mind of the social worker and the information environment in which they are operating the model has utility in practice development and research.
Supervisor: Daniel, Brigid ; McIntosh, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social work ; Child Welfare ; Child Protection ; Judgement ; Decision making ; Analysis ; Ethnography ; Sense-makng ; Rationality ; Cognitive continuum ; Social work with children