• Irene Dalgård Germann
  • Anette Kjærgaard Jørgensen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
We decided to prepare this thesis as a result of our curiosity in how service users are affected and affect the construction of problem understanding and identities in the institutional interaction in centres of drug and alcohol addiction.

The interaction between users and social workers has been the objekt of several research Projects within social Work in recent years. Much of this research has a deductive starting point in perspectives underlining the institutional and structural aspects in the interaction, and focus has ofte been on how service users, when confronted with the system, seem powerless and only stand a poor chance of presenting his/her problem understanding. In this setting, social work seems to focus on standardising the problems of the individual, and the service user seems to have to take on certain identities and engage in certain problem approaches in order to receive some help. But the question is whether the institutional and structural perspectives makes it difficult to see the aspects and variations characterising social work? Such aspects could include the different kinds of active contribution and responses from social users, which also impact on interaction and thereby social work.

The thesis relies on an inductive perspektive, aiming to view actual institutional interaction at a close practice-oriented range. The thesis is prepared relying on the understanding that through raising awareness of these aspects and variations, it will be possible to focus on the Space in institutional interaction. This is done by means of a dialogic, conversational-analytic approach based on authentic data from conversations between service users and caseworkers at a centre for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Accordingly, the language used in the interaction is given a high priority, which previously has received only scarce attention within social work, despite being an important element in interaction. We take the approach that language in itself is worth a study as this may bring about reflections on linguistic use andon how the conversations as a tool may potentially enables changes in social work.

The analysis indicates that the conversations are clearly set within the institutional framework both on the part of the services user and the caseworker. Despite the method stringency characterising the social work at the centre for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, empirical research shows that the method is put into practise using many different approaches. These numerous approaches have different implications for the interaction an thereby both hve a stimulatory and inhibitory impact on the servise user´s space in the conversation. The point to be taken is that the caseworker seems to play an important role in constructing problem understanding and identities and thereby directly impacts on the service user´s possibility of communicating his/her understanding.
Publication date6 Jul 2015
Number of pages106
External collaboratorNN
ID: 215875736