Half way reflections

Alison Twiner

(cartoon courtesy of @harrymvenning drawn during our presentation at @JSWEC 2016)


So we’ve just passed the half way mark in terms of funded time on the WiSP project – I thought this was a good time to reflect on where we are…

In terms of data collection,

  • We’re working with three local authorities, and we’ve conducted interviews with over 40 social workers so far.
  • 26 social workers have been keeping logs of writing activities, to give a sense of what is being written, when, why, where, and who for…
  • We’re collecting texts written by social workers, anonymised of course, and so far have a corpus just over 700,000 words – this consists of a range of types of writing, including emails, case notes, assessments, reports, letters, referrals and support plans.
  • We’re also observing social work in action, and have spent 7 weeks shadowing social workers in different domains across children’s and adult services.

In terms of what stands out – one key issue we’re discussing at the moment is interruptions:

  1. what is an interruption? This seems a strange question to ask but what we’re thinking of here, for example, could be where one social worker asks a question to others in his/her office space – for some this may be perceived to disrupt the flow of work; for others it may be an opportunity to exchange case information and expertise; for others it may be a chance for social interaction with colleagues. Of course the point here is that what an interruption is varies according to context and perspective.
  2. Of specific interest to us is the impact of ‘interruptions’ on social work writing. Indeed, just how interrupted or fragmented is social work writing?
  3. what are the potential impacts of interrupted writing practice?
  4. are interruptions always a bad thing??? Can they also be a means of reinforcing team working relations, or increasing understanding of others’ cases – which could be very helpful when on duty…?


We still have a lot of work to do, and lots of interesting texts and perspectives to get our corpus and ethnographic analytic teeth into…

Watch this space!

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