Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Social work in the information age

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0792.htm

Learning by Experience is a new section showcasing recent research in social care. It will focus on research in important areas of social care and social work which contributes to the evidence base for practice. The research discussed in Learning by Experience can be anything from a small research project undertaken by a practitioner working on the front line to a major piece of academic research carried out by a university. Anyone who would like to contribute should first read our detailed guidelines, which can be found here Abstract This paper looks how social work is managing in the information age. Characterised by flows of information through electronic media, the identity of, and work with, service users is divided into abstracted lists or measures, fed into databases, which then directs practice through performance indicators. Drawing on two current research projects, we describe how social workers in their everyday work are overwhelmed by such developments, but there are also opportunities to resist and embrace them. There has been much debate about how social work and other human services are managing in the information age. What is the place for caring and relational professions when faced with the massive growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs), the rise of the internet and new forms of regulation and scrutiny? The sociologist, Scott Lash characterised the information society as concerned with flow, and the compression of complexity into disembedded fragments. Bits, or more accurately bytes, of information move across multiple contexts, last for a few minutes, are picked up or discarded. There is no legitimating argument, no conceptual framework, no narrative in which it can all make sense. Nigel Parton (forthcoming) talks of the move from social to informational knowledge in social work:

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