‘It’s in the way that you use it’: biography as a tool in professional social work

Riitta Kyllönen

in Biographical methods and professional practice

Published by Policy Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9781861344939
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301554 | DOI:
‘It’s in the way that you use it’: biography as a tool in professional social work

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This chapter draws attention to the processes of emergent biographical co-construction and the way in which biographical categorisation can both enable and constrain supportive work with a socially marginalised group. This chapter is based on the study that was conducted by the author on how Venetian social welfare services interpret their lone mother recipients's needs and respond to them. The chapter first locates social welfare services in the feminine subsystem of welfare programmes and discusses how the feminine subtext defines the status of its beneficiaries. It then goes on to delineate the analytical framework adopted to examine the discursive and ideological dimensions of welfare state through professional research narratives. The rest of the chapter is devoted to the questions: How do social workers use biographies in designing social welfare intervention? How can biographies be useful in the analyses of the ideological dimensions of welfare practices?

Keywords: emergent biographical co-construction; biographical categorisation; constrain supportive work; socially marginalised group; social welfare services; welfare programmes; feminine; feminine subtext; professional research narratives; biographies

Chapter.  5960 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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