Journal Article

Formalizing the Unformalized: Practitioners’ Communication of Knowledge in Practice

Jennifer Osmond and Ian O’Connor

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 34, issue 5, pages 677-692
Published in print July 2004 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online July 2004 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Formalizing the Unformalized: Practitioners’ Communication of Knowledge in Practice

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Despite considerable debate in the literature, social work continues to invest considerable analytical and empirical energy on understanding, recognizing and critiquing the nature and form of its knowledge base. Although such contributions have advanced the discussion, what is largely absent but essential to this debate is an understanding of how practitioners actually express what they know. This paper focuses specifically on this issue and in so doing, advances one template for working with practice language. From a qualitative, multi-method research methodology, it was found that participants' communication of their knowledge was not always formal and labelled. Knowing could be expressed via examples, stories, metaphor, as well as understandings that resembled existing theoretical knowledge or that which had been reformulated and synthesized in practice. The paper emphasizes the necessity to recognize this diversity in knowledge communication, so as to accurately and responsibly map actual practice knowledge, but in doing so, also raises the issue of addressing limitations that such recognition brings. The issue of competent and clear practice articulation is a topic to which the profession should give serious attention. The inability of practitioners to explicitly articulate the basis of practice behaviour places them at a considerable disadvantage in a competitive labour market.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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