The Sage Handbook of Social Work Research

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The SAGE Handbook of Social Work Research provides a comprehensive, internationally-focused account of leading social work research, offering an original and defining statement on contemporary theory and practice within the field. The groundbreaking Handbook engages critically with the nature and role of social work research and evaluation in contemporary societies around the globe, and asks four key questions:

What is the role and purpose of social work research?

What contexts shape the practice and purpose of social work research?

How can we maximize the quality of the practice of social work research?

How can the aims of social work in its varied domains, be met through social work research?

Ranging over local, national and international issues, and exploring questions of theory and practice, this is a diverse and constructively organized overview of the field. It will quickly be recognized as a benchmark in the expanding field of social work research, setting the agenda for future work in the arena.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Overall, then, the Handbook is undoubtedly a great success. It represents a state-of-the-art mapping of the parameters of social work research. Both structure and content lend themselves to what will certainly come to be regarded as a benchmark statement within the field... the editors of the Handbook have undoubtedly fulfilled their ambitions by producing what by any standards is a benchmark text which is well worth the investment - time, effort, money (!) - entailed in getting to grips with the stimulating and rewarding debates within. It is hard to envisage how this undertaking could have been more impressive...'
Qualitative Social Work Journal

This is a highly ambitious, well thought out, carefully constructed, and thought-provoking volume that 'maps' social work research past and present. It differs markedly from most edited texts in its combination of diversity, coherence, and comprehensiveness... an original, stimulating and readable book in which not a single chapter is a rehash of the writer's previously published papers, as happens all too often in edited volumes. The modest term 'handbook' in its title hardly does justice to the book's depth, scope, and quality. While it can certainly serve as a ready reference guide, its thoughtfulness and questioning make it much more than a compendium of information, however rich. It is highly recommended for social work professionals throughout the Western world.

International Social Work Journal

'This is an internationally relevant handbook in the real sense of the word, as it provides a holistic and thorough overview of social work research in its current state... I have had the book for some months now and it fills me with optimism every time I pick it up. It has had a similar effect on nervous final-year social work students studying research, as they have expressed a huge sigh of relief after

examining this text because it offers so much knowledge and expertise in one place. It is clearly a must-have textbook for all final-year undergraduates, postgraduates, post-qualifying and research students because there is something for all inside. I would even go as far as to say it is an unrivalled international text that practitioners should also have if they feel serious about transforming the profession that they are part of.'

British Journal of Social Work

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412934985
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 12/10/2009
  • Pages: 572
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

I arrived in York (England) as Professor of Social Work in the Spring of 2003, following a long career in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University (Wales). I presently hold positions at the University of York and the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Aalborg University, Denmark.

I have written and researched extensively. My next book, body and soul permitting, will be Social Work and Science for Columbia University Press, followed by a four-volume ‘Major Work’ for Sage Publications on Social Work Research, with Jeanne Marsh and Mark Hardy. I am involved, alone or with others, at various stages of four research projects: an extended historical project on the relationship of sociology and social work, partly through the Special Collections at the University of Chicago; a historical study of the British Journal of Social Work; a study of the nature of research networks in social work; and a systematic review of practitioner research in adult social care. I hope to develop the notion of ‘sociological social work’ to the point where I will write a further book.

I co-founded the journal Qualitative Social Work. I envisioned and led to fruition in 2011 the European Conference for Social Work Research, and have worked with others to consolidate that initiative through a new European Social Work Research Association.

Katharine Briar-Lawson is an experienced academic administrator and national expert on family focused practice and child and family policy. Among her books (co-authored) are Family-Centered Policies & Practices: International Implications (2001) and (co-edited) Innovative Practices with Vulnerable Children and Families (2001). She has recently co-edited two volumes on Evaluation Research in Child Welfare, (2002) and Charting the Impacts of University-Child Welfare Collaboration, (2003). She is a member of the Council on Social Work Education Practice Commission; she also serves as associate editor for the New Global Development: Journal of International and Comparative Social Welfare, and is consulting editor for Social Work, as well as Family Preservation. She Co-Chairs the Gerontological Task Force for the National Association for Deans and Directors.

Joan Orme began her social work career as a probationofficer working first in Sheffield and then Southampton. Her first academic post at the University of Southampton was specifically for training probation officers. She continued in generic social work education, with a specific interest in probation education and training, at Southampton until she took up her post at Glasgow .

Joan was appointed the first Professor of Social Work at the University of Glasgow in October 2000 and helped to establish the Glasgow School of Social Work, a joint Schoolof Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. She was appointed the founding Head of the School in 2003.

Joan is active in a number of Scottish and UK organisations. In 2001-2004 she was Chair of the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee (JUC SWEC) that represents universities with social work courses. In that role she represented social work academics on the Department of Health Project Board for the Social Work degree in England . She was appointed a lifelong fellow of the JUC in 2005.

In 2000-2004 she was a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Training Board and was Vice Chair from 2003-2005. She currently holds a Researcher Development Initiative (RDI) grant from the ESRC for Increasing the confidence and competence of Social Work researchers: building research capacity in social work. Details of the RDI are available at She is a member of the steering group that developed the JUC SWEC Research Strategy and a member of the Steering Group for the Research and Development Strategy for Social Services in Scotland

Professor Ruckdeschel is Co-Editor and Co-Founding Editor, along with Ian Shaw of the UK, of the Sage journal Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice. He is a current member and past chair of the University-wide Qualitative Research Committee. He has also recently chaired the School of Social Work Rank & Tenure Committee (1998-2002) and the Family Concentration (1999-2002) and has served on and/or chaired numerous School committees. Professor Ruckdeschel currently serves on the Advisory Committee of Ethics Across the Curriculum (1998-present) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Health Care Ethics (1997-present).

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Table of Contents

Notes on Editors viii

Notes on Contributors x

Handbook Advisory Board xxiii

Editorial Essay: Mapping Social Work Research: Pasts, Presents and Futures Ian Shaw Katharine Briar-Lawson Joan Orme Roy Ruckdeschel 1

Section I Purpose of Social Work Research 21

1 The Nature and Purposes of Social Work Nigel Parton Stuart Kirk 23

2 Providing Objective, Impartial Evidence for Decision Making and Public Accountability Annette Boat James Blewett 37

3 Theory and Knowledge about Social Problems to Enhance Policy Development Joan Orme Katharine Briar-Lawson 49

4 Improving Intervention and Practice Daniel Gredig Jeanne C. Marsh 64

5 Researching Our Own Domains: Research as Practice in 'Learning Organizations' Susan White Gerhard Riemann 83

6 Challenging the Dominant Paradigm: Social Work Research, Social Justice and Social Change Bob Pease 98

Section II Contexts for Social Work Research 133

7 Research and Government Ian Shaw Joan Zlotnik 115

8 Politics and Values in Social Work Research Haluk Soydan 131

9 Social Work Research and Ethics Richard Hugman 149

10 From Social Work Practice to Social Work Research: An Emergent Approach to a Basic Problem Steve Trevillion 164

11 Theory and Theorizing: Intellectual Contexts of Social Work Research Mikko Mäntysaari Richard Weatherley 180

12 The Uses of Social Work Research Roy Ruckdeschel Adrienne Chambon 195

13 Places in Time: Contextualizing Social Work Research Ian Shaw 210

Section III The Practice of Social Work Research 229

14 The Practice of Social Work Research Jackie Powell Blanca Ramos 231

15 Logics, Qualities and Quality of Social Work Research Ian Shaw 246

16 Evidence and Practice: The Knowledge Challenge for Social Work Geraldine Macdonald Jennie Popay 264

17 Methods for Enhancing Theory and Knowledge about Problems, Policies, and Practice Jane F. Gilgun 281

18 Methods for Understanding, Learning and Social Justice Carmen Lavoie Judy MacDonald Elizabeth Whitmore 298

19 Mixing Methods in Social Work Research Jennifer C. Greene Peter Sommerfeld Wendy L. Haight 315

20 Challenges and Directions in the Practice of Social Work Research Katharine Briar-Lawson Robyn Munford Jackie Sanders 332

Section IV Domains of Social Work Research 349

21 Nation Linda Briskman 351

22 Community Karen M. Staller Tracie Mafile'o 365

23 Children, Young People and Families Mary C. Ruffolo June Thoburn Paula Allen-Meares 378

24 Health and Well-being Paul Bywaters Michael Ungar 392

25 Disability Sally French John Swain 406

26 Mental Health Peter Huxley Michael Sheppard Martin Webber 418

27 Social Work Research and Aging Philip McCallion 433

28 Social Work in Criminal Justice Fergus McNeill Denis Bracken Alan Clarke 447

29 Challenges and Directions in Social Work Research and Social Work Practice Joan Orme Roy Ruckdeschel Katharine Briar-Lawson 463

Bibliography 477

Index 548

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