Computing and Library Services - delivering an inspiring information environment

Professional categorization, risk management and inter-agency communication in public inquiries into disastrous outcomes

Hall, Christopher and Slembrouck, Stef (2009) Professional categorization, risk management and inter-agency communication in public inquiries into disastrous outcomes. British Journal of Social Work, 39 (2). pp. 280-298. ISSN 1469-263X

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (172kB)


    This paper suggests a conceptual shift in the way we approach information sharing
    by foregrounding the role of categorization. We argue that the establishment of
    professional categories, while being central to institutional intervention, is contingent
    on the complexities of everyday inter-professional encounters. It is important
    therefore to analyse situations in professionals report on the negotiation of categories
    as well as how professionals account for a failure to align sender and receiver
    frames. The data analysed in this paper consists two excerpts each from a public
    inquiry in the UK (the Victoria Climbié Inquiry) and one in Belgium (the Parliamentary
    Commission Dutroux). In conclusion, we address a number of themes in contemporary
    debates about improving interagency and within-agency communication. In
    particular, we advocate the promotion of language awareness rooted in interactional
    analysis and the need to understand the on-the-ground dynamics of evolving
    everyday practice as important prerequisites for bringing about and responding to

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: UoA 40 (Social Work and Social Policy and Administration) © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers.
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    Related URLs:

    Bowker, G. and Star, S. (2002) Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences,
    Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
    Buckley, H. (2000) ‘Child protection: An unreflective practice’, Social Work Education,
    19(3), pp. 253–63.
    Cooper, A., Hetherington, R. and Katz, I. (2003) The Risk Factor: Making the Child
    Protection System Work for Children, London, Demos.
    Edwards, A. (2004) ‘The new multi-agency working: Collaborating to prevent the social
    exclusion of children and families’, Journal of Integrated Care, 12(5), pp. 3–10.
    Foucault, M. (1981) ‘Questions of method’, Ideology and Consciousness, 8(3), pp. 3–14.
    Gibbs, G. and Hall, C. (2007) ‘The research potential of testimony from public inquiries
    websites’, Children and Society, 21(1), pp. 69–79.
    Goffman, E. (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, New
    York, Harper & Row.
    Goffman, E. (1981) Forms of Talk, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
    Hall, C., Slembrouck, S. and Sarangi, S. (2006) Language Practices in Social Work:
    Categorization and Accountability in Child Welfare, London, Routledge.
    Hartswood, M., Procter, R., Rouncefield, M. and Slack, R. (2003) ‘Making a case in
    medical work: Implications for the electronic medical record’, Computer Supported
    Cooperative Work, 12, pp. 241–66.
    Lakoff, G. (1987) Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the
    Mind, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
    Laming, H. (2003) The Victoria Climbié Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Lord Laming,
    Cmnd 5730, London, Stationery Office.
    Little, M. (1999) ‘Prevention and early intervention with children in need: Definitions,
    principles and examples of good practice’, Children and Society, 13(4), pp. 304–16.
    Lynch, M. and Bogen, D. (1996) The Spectacle of History: Speech, Text and Memory at
    the Iran-Contra Hearings, Durham, Duke University Press.
    Mäkitalo, A. (2003) ‘Accounting practices as situated knowing: Dilemmas and dynamics
    in institutional categorization’, Discourse Studies, 5(4), pp. 495–516.
    Mäkitalo, A. and Säljö, R. (2002) ‘Invisible people: Institutional reasoning and reflexivity
    in the production of services and “social facts” in public employment agencies’,
    Mind, Culture and Activity, 9(3), pp. 160–78.
    Munro, E. (1999) ‘Common errors of reasoning in child protection work’, Child Abuse
    and Neglect, 21(8), pp. 745–58.
    Nikander, P. (2000) ‘“Old v. little girl”: A discursive approach to age categorization and
    morality’, Journal of Aging Studies, 14(4), pp. 335–58.
    Nikander, P. (2003) ‘The absent client: Case description and decision making in
    interpersonal meetings’, in Hall, C., Juhila, K., Parton, N. and Poso, T. (eds),Constructing Clienthood in Social Work and Human Services, London, Jessica
    Kingsley Publishers.
    Reder, P. and Duncan, S. (2003) ‘Understanding communication in child protection networks’,
    Child Abuse Review, 12, pp. 82–100.
    Sarangi, S. and Slembrouck, S. (1996) Language, Bureaucracy and Social Control,
    London, Longman.
    Salmon, G. and Rapport, F. (2005) ‘Multi-agency voices: A thematic analysis of multiagency
    working practices within the setting of a child and adolescent mental health
    service’, Journal of Interprofessional Care, 19(5), pp. 429–43.
    Taylor, C. and White, S. (2006) ‘Knowledge and reasoning in social work: Educating for
    humane judgement’, British Journal of Social Work, 36(6), pp. 937–45.
    White, S. and Featherstone, B. (2005) ‘Communicating misunderstandings: Multi agency
    work as social practice’, Child and Family Social Work, 10(2), pp. 207–16.
    Zwarenstein, M. and Reeves, S. (2000) ‘What’s so great about collaboration? We need
    more evidence and less rhetoric’, British Medical Journal, 320, pp. 1022–3.
    Zwarenstein, M. and Reeves, S. (2002) ‘Working together but apart: Barriers and routes
    to nurse–physician collaboration’, Joint Commission Journal of Quality Improvement,
    28(5), pp. 242–7.

    Depositing User: Sara Taylor
    Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2007
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 19:21


    Downloads per month over past year

    Repository Staff Only: item control page

    View Item

    University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH Copyright and Disclaimer All rights reserved ©