Journal Article

Images of Contract: An Empirical Study of the Use of Theory in Practice

Silvia Fargion

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 4, pages 517-534
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Images of Contract: An Empirical Study of the Use of Theory in Practice

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Based on a project on the use of contract work by practitioners in Family Support Services in Italy, this article addresses the relation between theory and practice from a language perspective. Practitioners' representations illustrate two main ways of interpreting the concept of contract, one focusing on the agreement between client and practitioners, the other on a structured way of working. These two images of contract appear connected to different ‘language games’, that is frameworks practitioners use to make sense of their work. This finding casts doubts on the very possibility of conjugating, in concrete practice, empowering approaches with a highly structured way of working, as the contract method and other approaches in social work attempt to do. The research also shows how theoretical concepts can be reinterpreted and used in different ways by practitioners, consistent with the broader languages that social workers adopt to communicate about, and make sense of, their work.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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