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Calling evidence-based practice into question: acknowledging phronetic knowledge in social work
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden.
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3602-1837
2015 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 45, no 5, 1581-1597 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we call into question evidence-based practice as a working strategy for relevant applied knowledge in social work. We argue that evidence-based practice suffers from a dilemma whereby a narrow view of evidence is prioritised at the cost of relevance to social work. Instead, we suggest that praxis-based knowledge informed by different forms of knowledge is a better option with a greater potential to enhance the use of knowledge in social work practice. The article takes its starting point from Aristotle’s knowledge triad of episteme, techne and phronesis, and further incorporates Flyvbjerg’s perspective on a phronetic knowledge, which is value-based, context-dependent, sensitive to power relations and grounded in practical experience. We argue that phronesis is important for making social science matter in practice, and that this holds in particular for socialwork.Thepraxis-basedknowledgeapproachcan offerawiser solution to the evidence – relevance dilemma by using a broader knowledge view and thereby taking practical relevance more seriously. This article pays particular attention to ways of making the extensive evaluation activity in social work more relevant and useful from a phronetic evaluation perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 45, no 5, 1581-1597 p.
Keyword [en]
phronesis, episteme, evidence-based practice, praxis-based knowledge
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-42259DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcu020ISI: 000359085500013Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84938313976OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-42259DiVA: diva2:784475
Available from: 2015-01-29 Created: 2015-01-29 Last updated: 2017-04-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Evaluations that matter in social work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluations that matter in social work
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A great deal of evaluations are commissioned and conducted every year in social work, but research reports a lack of use of the evaluation results. This may depend on how the evaluations are conducted, but it may also depend on how social workers use evaluation results. The aim of this thesis is to explore and analyse evaluation practice in social work from an empirical, normative, and constructive perspective. The objectives are partly to increase the understanding of how we can produce relevant and useful knowledge for social work using evaluation results and partly, to give concrete suggestions on improvements on how to conduct evaluations. The empirical data has been organised as four cases, which are evaluations of temporary programmes in social work. The source materials are documents and interviews. The results show that findings from evaluations of temporary programmes are sparingly used in social work. Evaluations seem to have unclear intentions with less relevance for learning and improvement. In contrast, the evaluators themselves are using the data for new purposes. These empirical findings are elaborated further by using the knowledge form phronesis, which can be translated into practical wisdom. The overall conclusion is that social work is in need of knowledge that social workers find relevant and useful in practice. In order to meet these needs, researchers and evaluators must broaden their knowledge view and begin to include practical knowledge instead of solely relying on scientific knowledge when conducting evaluations. Finally, a new evaluation model is suggested. It is called phronesis-based evaluation and is argued to have great potential to address and include professionals’ praxis-based knowledge. It advocates a view that takes social work’s dynamic context into serious consideration and acknowledges values and power as important components of the evaluation process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2017. 118 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Social work, ISSN 1651-145X ; 19
Keyword
evaluation, evaluation use, knowledge use, phronesis, scientific knowledge, praxis-based knowledge
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-56146 (URN)978-91-7529-189-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-04-28, Örebro universitet, Långhuset, Hörsal 1, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-03-07 Created: 2017-03-07 Last updated: 2017-05-03Bibliographically approved

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