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Adolescents committed to care following difficult behaviour: A comparison of social workers' judgments concerning Black and White children.

Cawson, Patricia. (1989) Adolescents committed to care following difficult behaviour: A comparison of social workers' judgments concerning Black and White children. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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The purpose of the research was to explore the theoretical models which social workers applied to the understanding of adolescents coming before the juvenile court for troublesome behaviour; and to ascertain whether different models were applied to the behaviour or family situation of black and white adolescents. The study examined the use of models derived from psychology and sociology, and considered the influence of moral values and cultural stereotypes, both within the previous research tradition in this subject, and as possible underpinning to the social workers' use of theory. A sample was drawn of 93 adolescents committed to care in London under Section 1(2)(c-f) or 7(7) of the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act. Data was taken from social work reports on the children's behaviour and family background. Analysis focussed in detail on those adolescents who had been committed to care within 18 months of referral to the social services department, and from this group a sample of 22 matched pairs of black and white children (44 children) was selected for detailed content analysis of the social workers' reports to the court. The research attempted to develop grounded theory to aid the sociological understanding of the substantive problem, and refine the understanding of three relevant sociological models: the marginal position of black social work clients in a white-dominated professional culture; the stigmatisation of social work clients, especially those from ethnic minorities; and the use of social work as a means of social control. Results suggest that social workers' use of theory is more complex than previously thought, with differential strategic use of psychology and sociology in open court and confidential file reports, and when dealing with particularly sensitive subjects such as race. Social workers developed a form of composite theorising which blended sociology and psychology in a coherent whole to meet the complexity of an observed situation. This reflects the impossibility of seeking a whole explanation within any single, pre-paradigmatic discipline. Doubts were also cast on the usefulness of sociological models of marginality, which could not be demonstrated by systematic analysis, as distinct from the use of selective examples. The use of stigmatising mechanisms could be demonstrated. The issue of social control emerged as a multi-faceted negotiating process rather than as a direct two-way struggle between the powerful and the powerless.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Cawson, Patricia.
Date : 1989
Contributors :
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1989.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 22 Jun 2018 13:00
Last Modified : 06 Nov 2018 16:52

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