Lived Experience as Source for Professionalisation of Social Work in Prison

Petra Horova

OBJECTIVES: The paper answers research question: In which aspects we can identify potential for strengthening of social work professionalization in prison on the base of everyday life experiences of social workers? THEORETICAL BASE: We used phenomenology proposed by Schütz to define perspective and terminology of the article. METHODS: We conducted qualitative research with social workers working in prison. Following the phenomenological perspective, we asked social workers about their life experience gained during work with prisoners. In this article we worked with part of the data which was most relevant for topic of social work professionalization as autonomous and standalone profession. OUTCOMES: Reflection on data found the following aspects most relevant for strengthening potential of professionalization: biographic situation of the social worker, his/her qualifications, prevention of burnout syndrome, competence relevant for work in relationship with client, reflection and ability to avoid manipulation, diversity in work of social worker and his/her ability to use different tasks for goals of social work, and balancing social work and its autonomy within the framework of social system. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: We discussed options for strengthening of various stakeholders of social work professionalization including individual social workers, teachers, professional organisations, and managers in social work.

social work with offenders, professionalization, sociological phenomenology, Alfred Schütz, qualitative research

p. 72-88

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