Becoming a critical social work practitioner
Becoming a critical social work practitioner

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Becoming a critical social work practitioner

3.6 Professional conference with Karen present

Activity 9

1 hour 0 minutes

Read the Case Study ‘Sarah's story: Child protection conference [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

As you read, consider the following questions:

  1. What is the conference chair saying in plain language?

  2. What kind of language is she actually using?

  3. What are the difficulties of using ‘professional short-hand’ or jargon phrases in a meeting where not everybody is a professional and may not share an understanding of the language?

  4. What is Karen saying? Is she being ‘heard’ in this clip? What is her ‘service user's view’ about her position in this meeting or in decision-making processes?

  5. Does Karen have a point?


This is a very short extract from a real-life child protection conference involving Sarah's mother, Karen, and various professionals, including the social worker, John. It is important to realise that this extract has been edited and greatly shortened and so appears out of any context. The focus on the participants' language use does not, therefore, reflect their overall contribution to the conference. The point of focusing upon a small selection is to illustrate the argument that even very small snippets of the language used in practice can reveal profound messages about power and powerlessness.


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