Journal Article

Declientification: Undoing Client Identities in Care Planning Conferences on the Termination of Residential Care

Heinz Messmer and Sarah Hitzler

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 41, issue 4, pages 778-798
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcr054
Declientification: Undoing Client Identities in Care Planning Conferences on the Termination of Residential Care

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That social welfare clients ought to be looked at not as given, a priori entities, but rather as categories produced in accordance with the policies, resources and options of the institutions involved is established today as a common ground for reflexive and reconstructivist perspectives in social work research. The disestablishment of the client role, however, up to now seems to have met a blind spot. This article will present findings from a conversation analytical study based on fourteen fully transcribed care planning conferences in the context of German long-term residential childcare, concentrating on five meetings explicitly designed to terminate the service provision. We will show how long-term residential care is regularly terminated by a range of interactional strategies complementary to those of client production that can be flexibly exploited in response to institutional and political context requirements. Conversation analysis is introduced as a method that can unveil the interactive practices professionals use in order to balance the constraints of institutional social work against the needs of the individual cases.

Keywords: Care planning conference; child welfare; client identity; conversation analysis; leaving care; professional/client interaction

Journal Article.  7150 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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