Journal Article

Searching for Appropriate Ways to Face the Challenges of Complexity and Dynamics

Peter Sommerfeld and Lea Hollenstein

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 41, issue 4, pages 668-688
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Searching for Appropriate Ways to Face the Challenges of Complexity and Dynamics

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People, as bio-psychological systems, are just as dynamic and complex as the social systems that they create. Social work intervenes in the interplay of these two complex, dynamic systems. How can we capture these complexities and dynamics in social work research and practice? The paper introduces the theoretical grounds on which a mixed-methods design has been developed combining a longitudinal quantitative method called Real Time Monitoring that produces dense time series data with qualitative methods (biographical and reflecting interviews) within the framework of grounded theory. After some short notes on the methodology, its application is demonstrated alongside a case example. Because complexity and dynamics challenge not only research, but also the practice of social work, the approach is finally discussed in view of the ‘realistic evaluation’ paradigm.

Keywords: Social work research; mixed methods; longitudinal design; systems theory; violence against women

Journal Article.  7636 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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