European Social Work Research's Most Read Articles

Enjoy gratis access to European Social Work Research's top 5 most downloaded articles published in 2023 until 29 February. 

European Social Work Research Most Read Articles

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Street triage practitioners, consisting of mental health social workers and nurses, act as a conduit between service users and emergency services, and have a significant amount of discretion in determining the care and treatment pathways for individuals experiencing mental health crises. However, this is set against a backdrop of neoliberal reforms that have resulted in an increased focus on risk management, accountability, responsibilisation and managing scarce resources. Based on ethnographic research undertaken in a street triage setting in the UK, this article examines the role of street triage practitioners as ‘street-level bureaucrats’ and explores the impact of neoliberal mental health reforms on street-level practice and how these shape and constrain the use of discretion in a street triage context. Revisiting the relevance of Lipsky through a neoliberal lens, the article identifies how street triage practitioners use their discretion to navigate practice dilemmas in a contemporary mental health landscape.

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This article builds on a scoping review of the international literature of community–academy partnerships in social work and is illustrated with a narrative case study reflecting on experiences of managing transitions between research, practice and policy in the context of partnership work with care leavers in Italy. Arising from the literature and case material, we conclude by identifying four areas for further consideration: the constituents of ‘meaningful’ outcomes; the personal and political nature of power; the temporal characteristics of partnership practice; and the complex challenges of inclusivity.

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Digital features like virtual reality have hardly been used in the framework of data collection in qualitative social work research. Virtual reality holds specific promise because it allows the immersion of participants in a situation and has the potential to strengthen the ecological validity of data. In this light, we examined the use of a virtual reality serious game in qualitative in-person interviews in the framework of a prevention-oriented HIV social research project. We designed and developed an immersive virtual reality serious game, and integrated it into 24 problem-centred in-person interviews. The integration was feasible, and the virtual reality serious game was well accepted. It prompted participants to elaborate their lived experiences more extensively and in depth. Participants subsequently recalled episodes they had not mentioned before, complemented their narratives and brought up new topics. The atmosphere became less formal, and participants were even more communicative. The use of virtual reality seems to have the potential to open up new perspectives, broaden epistemic possibilities and complement the qualitative methods used to investigate, in particular, verbal and non-verbal communication and interaction processes. From an ethical perspective, the use of virtual reality should be well reflected upon regarding possible after-effects for the participants.

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Policy engagement by social workers that seeks to impact public policies that advance social justice and human rights has, and continues to be, a core component of the social work profession. This has also led to a growing volume of research focusing upon the routes that social workers can take to be part of the policy formulation process. The aim of this article is to provide a research overview of five policy routes, which include two civic routes, specifically voluntary political participation and holding elected office, and three professional routes, specifically policy practice, academic policy engagement and policy participation through professional organisations. The overview expands our knowledge on contemporary research trends regarding the level of engagement in each route, the form that this takes and the factors that explain it. The factors that have been identified in the research literature as impacting social workers’ policy engagement will draw upon the policy engagement conceptual framework. The methodologies employed in the studies are discussed. Finally, the article concludes by identifying under-researched facets of social workers’ policy engagement and suggesting a research agenda for the field.

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Since the conception of post-war national welfare states and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the notions of citizenship and of civic, political and social rights were institutionalised in European welfare states. In that vein, a social work workforce acquired a professional and public mandate to implement social policies. During recent decades, however, welfare state arrangements seem to have moved in another direction. The premise that the welfare state is responsible for social protection and the redistribution of resources has subtly shifted into one of an active welfare state, with a stronger focus on individual responsibility and conditionality. In addition, welfare state arrangements have been based on the premise of a territorial logic of the nation state, making it more difficult for migrants to access services. In this article, we first discuss the transformation of welfare state arrangements. We then make use of an exemplary case, namely, the emergence of new social work practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, to illustrate the current positioning of social work practice. In the final part, we critically tease out the changing role of social work and social work research in these circumstances.

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