(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:
- 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.
- Of specific interest to us is the impact of ‘interruptions’ on social work writing. Indeed, just how interrupted or fragmented is social work writing?
- what are the potential impacts of interrupted writing practice?
- 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!