Complexity lies at the heart of social work practice and this book is designed to help students and newly-qualified social workers plan for and manage complex cases in an increasingly complex environment. Split into two parts, this book reflects the journey of qualifying social work students from preparation for practice in an educational context to learning ‘on the job’ through working with service users in practice settings, and eventually assuming a more senior role in management, administration and training. Key topics covered in the chapters include, managing volatility and uncertainty; making judgements and decisions; building and maintaining relationships; using reflection and supervision; working interprofessionally; managing risk; exploring cause and effect.

Addressing Complexity in Research and Evaluation
Addressing Complexity in Research and Evaluation
Chapter Summary

This chapter considers the challenges faced by researchers and evaluators in producing scientifically robust explanations of complex social phenomena. Social work is described as an applied field of practice and research, which draws eclectically from a range of academic disciplines and approaches to the pursuit of knowledge. This leads to a consideration of research paradigms, of which scientific realism is argued to be the one that engages most comprehensively with the problem of complexity. The main principles of realist research are outlined and linked to a critique of the dominant positivist paradigm, before proceeding to discuss some of the methods commonly employed in realist designs. Particular attention is given to realist evaluation ...

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