Knowledge lost - or gained? The changing knowledge base of Danish social work

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  • Anna Olejasz Lyneborg
  • Mads Damgaard
As the institutional setting and conditions of Danish social work have changed to attain new levels of efficiency, social work practice has changed substantially. The demands for social services of high quality have intensified as a result of high priority cases of neglect and maladministration, as well as municipalities exceeding their budgets.

This article explores the consequences of the extensive reform initiatives targeted at Danish social work services. The reforms generate new demands for monitoring, regulating, evidence-basing and evaluating social work, and new processes and ways of knowing the professional object of social work are required to meet these demands. The overall research object is thus the emergence of new social work epistemologies. Setting out from the theory of the professional knowledge base, the article explores how elements of the professional knowledge base in social work are prioritised, changed and sculpted because of organisational reforms.

The analysis is grounded in two qualitative case studies, both based on multiple types of qualitative data (fieldwork, interview transcripts and document analysis). The first case study investigates organisational responses to high priority cases, while the second study investigates the consequences of introducing assessment software as a decision-making tool in social work. The organisational changes and initiatives underpin two different models of reality in social work, and while possibly strengthening practitioners’ knowledge base, social work might encounter various pitfalls as a result of the discrepant goals of reforms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Social Work Research
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2018

ID: 199567556