The process of professionalisation: Exploring the identities of child protection social workers

Jadwiga Leigh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Summary: This article discusses the findings from a qualitative study, which explored how a group of social workers might construct their professional identity. By drawing from Freidson’s theoretical perspective of professionalisation and applying it to the field of child protection a different meaning of ‘profession’ has emerged. Findings: By seeking the views and reflections on what it means to be a professional, the stories that emerged provided these practitioners with distinctive social positions and statuses to take up within the professionalisation process. The narratives also contradicted Freidson’s argument: for subject to both discourses of derision and attacks from countervailing forces present not only on the inside but on the outside of the discipline, these social workers have had to develop their own unique defensive techniques in order to survive. If Freidson had been an insider to a profession and used the method of narrative interviewing when carrying out his work, his conclusions may have been quite different. Applications: This study contributes to debates about professions using the method of narrative interviewing with social workers. By using this approach and talking directly to the professionals within the field of child protection, who have to deal first hand with certain cultural scripts, a different definition of ‘profession’ has been extended.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Social Work
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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