• Pi Hornbech Schønemann
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
The objective of this study will be on social workers in the municipalities’ family departments in Denmark, which is an area of work characterized by a multiple stress. While economy is restricting the social work, the legislation must still be obliged. At this point opinions could be that exposed children and adolescents are given secondary priorities. The resulting pressure on social workers induces a poorer mental working environment compared to other professions. Given the challenges of working in the municipality system with human beings, the mental working environment of social workers is particularly important. As there are numerous perspectives on working environment this study will be focusing on sensemaking in the social work, as this is seen to be an important aspect.
Based on qualitative semi-structured interviews with six social workers from family departments in various municipalities, it is analyzed which situations social workers find either meaningful or meaningless. The perceptions of sensemaking in the interviews are interpreted using the hermeneutics theory of science method. As a basis for the analysis a thematic coding has been performed on the transcribed interviews with an interaction between empiricism and theoretical conceptions. In order to further qualify the interpretations of sensemaking in social work the conceptions of partial factors by Ib Ravn and of sensemaking processes by Karl Weick has been employed.
My own prejudices and pre-understandings suggested that the social work would tend to be evaluated as meaningless, which is an understanding being contradicted in the analysis.
It is found that the social workers regard some specific situations as meaningful and other as meaningless. One of the common links is that they tend to value the sequences with close relations to the citizens as more meaningful, which is due to their perceptions of their own identity.
Another important aspect is that the legislative frame and control is central to social workers idea of sensemaking. In relation to this it is found that most of the social workers find their work meaningful, although tendencies of control and uniform procedures characterize it.
It is found that meaningless work especially occur in situations where the social workers do not find their work valuable to the citizens. With regard to the situations of meaningless work, it is further noted that the social workers are trying to cope with them by turning them into positives.
In the discussion sensemaking is related to practice, as an area of conflict is outlined between two perceptions social work in practice and as a profession. It is discussed whether these perceptions will harmonize or cause implications for the social work. An important outline from this discussion is that the majority of interviewed social workers have a way of sensemaking, which is makes them supportive of control and uniform procedures. In this regard it is somehow surprising that skepticism is not more widespread among the social workers.
Publication date15 Mar 2016
Number of pages116
ID: 229961201