Accounting for self, sex and sexuality in UK social workers' knowledge base: Findings from an exploratory study

Jason Schaub, Paul Willis, Priscilla Dunk-West

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The social work profession struggles to engage with sexuality under the anti-oppressive banner as deftly as it does with other types of social difference, such as ethnicity, age, class and gender. Despite recent theorising and empirical work about sexuality in social work, little is known about social workers' perceptions, knowledge and values about sexuality in contemporary professional practice. This exploratory study is the first to examine social workers' beliefs and values about sexuality in relation to everyday professional interactions within the UK. It aims to better account for the ways in which sexuality is constructed and understood within interactions with colleagues and clients. Utilisation of an online survey instrument examined 112 respondents' perceptions about sexuality, incorporating the Heter on ormativity Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (Habarth, 2015) and open-ended questions exploring how social workers acquire knowledge about sexuality. Respondents were qualified social workers from Wales, England and Scotland. Findings suggest that some respondents 'bracketed' values to manage between professional and personal identities. We found a relationship between social workers' religiosity and investment in heter on ormative beliefs. Implications for delivery of services to social work clients and practitioners' learning needs are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-446
    Number of pages20
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Volume47
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Heter on ormativity
    • Professional interactions
    • Service users
    • Sex
    • Sexuality
    • Social work knowledge

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