Sheehan, Lucy

Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
A multi-site ethnographic study of decision making in child and family social work teams using Signs of Safety
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Donald Forrester and Kate Moles
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My thesis draws upon two social work research areas: firstly, the literature on professional decision making; and secondly, the developing body of research into models of professional practice. By focusing on the phenomena of decision-making within formal models of social work practice, my thesis develops a unique focus.

A multi-site ethnography using mobile methods, interviews and document analysis will enable an exploration of the following research questions:

  • How do child protection social workers formulate decisions in informal and formal professional contexts?
  • How do social workers experience and account for the process of decision making (for example, whether to remove a child from their family; whether to place a child on the child protection register) within a Signs of Safety practice framework?
  • Is there congruence between social workers’ individual values (stated and observed), Signs of Safety values and wider organisational values?
  • How do the organisations in which decision making takes place impact upon the interactional decision-making processes, the outcomes, and social workers’ experiences of decision-making?