Journal Article

When and How Does Ethnicity Matter? A Cross-National Study of Social Work Responses to Ethnicity in Child Protection Cases

Charlotte Williams and Haluk Soydan

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 6, pages 901-920
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch281
When and How Does Ethnicity Matter? A Cross-National Study of Social Work Responses to Ethnicity in Child Protection Cases

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It is an established part of the conventional wisdom of social work theory and practice that attention to ethnic difference is at the core of best practice. This principle is endorsed in welfare legislation or in the training and education of social workers in most European countries. Little empirical evidence exists, however, to demonstrate that this principle guides practitioner decision making, or to verify the claim that it benefits ethnic minority clients. At a cross-national level, no robust evidence exists to illustrate similarities or differences in social work response to ethnicity. This article reports on aspects of a study that examines these concerns within the context of child protection. It demonstrates, perhaps surprisingly given national variations in legislation and professional practice, that overall, country by country, the child’s ethnic affiliation evokes little significant response by social workers, confirming a largely universalist approach. However, through a detailed focus on the qualitative data, this paper considers the nature of the references to ethnicity that are made by social workers in terms of how they confirm or refute the dominant approach to multiculturalism within social work.

Keywords: child protection; ethnicity; professional judgements; social work practice; vignette study

Journal Article.  8260 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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