Journal Article

From Care to Fellowship and Back: Interpretative Repertoires Used by the Social Welfare Workers when Describing their Relationship with Homeless Women

Kirsi Juhila

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 1, pages 128-143
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcm092
From Care to Fellowship and Back: Interpretative Repertoires Used by the Social Welfare Workers when Describing their Relationship with Homeless Women

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The study asks what kinds of interpretative repertoires do social welfare workers use and produce when describing their work, and how is the practitioner–client relationship described in the different repertoires? Social welfare work is approached through a single organization targeted for homeless women. The research data consist of a free-form diary kept by the workers. The analysis shows that the workers construct six different interpretative repertoires: repertoire of care, repertoire of assessment, repertoire of control, repertoire of therapy, repertoire of service provision and repertoire of fellowship. The repertoires are not anchored to given workers or homeless women. Individual workers adopt different repertoires, and a single homeless woman may be encountered in several ways. The variation in the repertoires and the movement between them make the work flexible. The quantitatively most frequent repertoire is the repertoire of care based on the ethics of care. As a carrying principle of the daily work, it may create a climate of trust and confidence which makes the other repertoires possible. Due to its variation and commitment to long-term care, the work with homeless women can be said to challenge predominant policies that emphasize the citizen’s own responsibility and the managerialist mode of operation.

Keywords: social welfare work; homeless women; interpretative repertoire; variation; care

Journal Article.  6919 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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