• Merete Ørnsholt
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This master thesis examines how teachers at Danish vocational schools handle the demand of physical exercise in the 2014 VET reform, and how this knowledge can contribute to the understanding of social work in the competitive state we live in in Denmark to day.

The study is made from hermeneutic scientific theory, and is based on utterances collected through qualitative interviews with six vocational teachers. These have been examined with a theory of street-level bureaucracy developed by Michael Lipsky. The results are intended to highlight the diversity of social work and contribute to the discussion about the understanding of social work and social workers today.

The study finds that teachers within the VET especially experiences three major challenges in connection to their inclusion of physical activity in the tuition. Challenges concerning 1) the students’ physique, attitude and vulnerability, 2) lack of time, and 3) the teachers’ own attitudes, and feelings of having the necessary skills to include exercise in their tuition. To handle the challenges the teachers use different cooping-mechanisms. The use can be with the intention to avoid including exercise in their tuition, but also the opposite. No matter the intention, it seems that the most important factor is the teachers’ will to include physical activity, which seems to be influenced by whether, or not, the teacher experience exercise in the tuition as meaningful. Overall the teachers, who are positive about the demand of physical activity, find it easier to see the meaning with the inclusion. Therefore the study finds that the teachers’ will to include exercise in their tuition is affected by their personal attitude/interests in connection to physical activity in general, and to inclusion of exercise in the tuition. Therefore it seems that the most important factor, according to whether exercise is included or not, is the teachers’ personal characteristics. This leads to the importance of focusing on the street-level bureaucrats, and their personal aspects when examining implementation within social work.

Furthermore the study shows that, no matter how the teachers handle the challenges, both positive and negative consequences can be identified in relation to the purpose of contributing to social work. These concern the challenges connected with making social work to a large group at the same time, which points at a complexity in the social work and a diversity in the conditions that social workers can work within. It also points at a necessity of understanding social work as a large discipline with different ways of working and with different available instruments.

The use of Lipsky’s theory raises the question of one theory’s capability of covering all possible conducts of every street-level bureaucrat. The study points at an advantage of either broadening the existing theories, or create several specialized theories that take into account the unique characteristics of the different social workers and their way of contributing to social work.
Publication date29 Jul 2016
Number of pages116
ID: 237847461