A matter of quality in social work

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Julie Ahlstrøm Thougaard
  • Jesper Skovgaard Petersen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
During recent years the focus on the quality of social work, and public services in general, has
grown. New large- scale quality programs have been set in action to transform the public service so
that it can be standardized and measured. The most widespread program is called “Den Danske
Kvalitetsmodel”, which is common in almost every public social serviceinstitution, hospitals and
social offices in this country.
The main goal of this project is to examine this program called “Den Danske Kvalitetsmodel” and
the discourses of quality that is its substance. Furthermore we want to take a closer look into the
context of the social-worker in which “Den Danske Kvalitetsmodel” has been implemented, to find
out which discourses of quality that affect this context. We will look into the term quality with help
from Peter- Dahler Larsen’s perspective on quality, and try to figure out which discourses of quality
we can identify in the program “Den Danske Kvalitetsmodel” and in the context of the socialworker.
Our overall research strategy in the project is based on Derek Layder and his adaptive
theory, because he allows a use of different research methods in the project. It allows us to take
inspiration from the both critical realistic area as well as the constructivistic area. We look into the
context of the social worker with the help from the ethnographer James P. Spradley and his D.R.S.
method of collecting data, because we want use another method than the discourse analytic in this
context. We look at the data material, using Norman Fairclough’s toolbox and his three dimensional
model for linguistic research and discourse analysis. When we look at “Den Danske
Kvalitetsmodel” we find different kinds of quality discourses that can be related to New Public
Management, and in this a perspective the model can be seen as a technique of public
administration and controlling. Furthermore we put the model in a Governmentality perspective,
and take at closer look at the term of “conduct of conduct”. Here we look at the significant amount
of language used that underpins the use of the model as a tool for conduct. In the field of the social
worker we find quality discourses that are dominated by the ideologies that rule this context. One of
the most significant is the ideology of the social- worker, one that in particular is dominant is the
“discourse of relations” which we find dominates the practice work of the social worker. In “Den
Danske Kvalitetmodel”, quality is valued with a great importance, and in the context of the social
worker a good relation is also valued with great importance, and in this way the discourse is closely
related to quality. What we find very interesting is, that neither in the practice of the social worker,
nor in “Den Danske Kvalitetsmodel”, it is formulated or described how to achieve quality or how
the good relation is developed. In our analysis we examine the discourses of quality in a political
perspective to find out how the discourses constitute and how they are constituted by the social
practice. Therefore we end this abstract with at a quote from Norman Fairclough and his view upon
political conduct:
”No Contemporary social research can ignore these changes, they are having a pervasive effect on
our lives” (Fairclough 2003: 4).
Publication date1 Sept 2011
Number of pages123
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet, Kandidatuddannelsen i Socialt Arbejde
ID: 55343497