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.

Developing Policies for Social Problems

Developing Policies for Social Problems

Chapter Summary

This chapter broadens the scope of analysis to consider what complexity means for social policy. It begins by exploring non-linear effects and unintended consequences in a range of policy areas, including housing, social care, and public health interventions. Some key principles of holistic policymaking are described before turning to the development of risk regulation regimes, which have become increasingly important in social work. Different policy approaches to human error are compared, drawing on socio-technical systems ideas to consider the interface between policy and research evidence. The chapter concludes with a discussion of top-down and bottom-up approaches to policy implementation and the importance of stimulating innovative solutions to complex social problems.


As its title suggests, the ...

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