• Anna Brændstrup Steffensen
4. semester, Socialt Arbejde, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)

This thesis is a qualitative vignette study concerning Danish social workers attitudes towards whistleblowing in social work. In the media whistleblowing in social work appears regularly and becomes the subject of debate. Most often this takes place in articles in various newspapers and journals, especially Dansk Socialrådgiverforening. Dansk Socialrådgiverforening has published several articles on whistleblowing and freedom of speech in which various experts have spoken out about their existence - or rather the absence of their existence – in Danish social work. Social workers on the other hand don’t seem to give whistleblowing any attention – at least they don’t seem to take part in the debate. This is in spite of an increasing number of critical cases with children brought up in the media, whom weren’t taken sufficiently care of because of the economical crisis in the municipalities. This is the reason for studying the attitudes of social workers towards whistleblowing.

I presume that social workers are positive about whistleblowing when a child is being neglected but on the other hand I imagine that a social workers willingness to act as a whistleblower is negatively influenced by structures within the hierarchal organization – structures which are unknown to the social workers but still has an effect on their attitudes so that no one blows the whistle.
The methodological positioning in the thesis is the vignette technique combined with qualitative interviewing of social workers in two Danish municipalities. The theoretical positioning is constructivism inspired by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his reflexive sociology. Bourdieu presented the concepts of capital, habitus, field, symbolic violence and doxa, which in the study are being used as tools for the analysis together with theories of attitudes.

The conclusions of the thesis are that social workers are positive about whistleblowing. However three out of six social workers appear to be influenced by the symbolic violence and the doxa in the organization, which means that they don’t suggest whistleblowing as an act or choose to blow the whistle even though they feel that the child in the vignette is not taken satisfactorily care of. Besides this finding the study also finds that social workers attitudes towards whistleblowing are closely dependent on the support of their colleagues. The support seems even more important than the agreement of the colleagues in the evaluation of the situation. Another finding is that the social workers are convinced that their colleagues will evaluate the situation the same way as they do themselves – despite the fact that the social workers in all three stages of the vignette have obvious differences of opinion.

There seems to be very little conversation and reflexivity regarding whistleblowing and disagreement in the two municipalities. Therefore at the end this thesis argues for a method to bring reflexivity into social work practice, so that whistleblowing and disagreement can be part of the everyday practice for social workers working with children.
Udgivelsesdato1 aug. 2012
Antal sider106
Udgivende institutionAalborg Universitet, Kandidatuddannelsen i Socialt Arbejde
ID: 66208691