Portrait of Dr Joanne Warner

Dr Joanne Warner

Reader in Social Work


Dr Joanne Warner came to Kent in 2005, having previously held lectureships in Health and Social Care at The Open University and in Applied Social Studies at the University of Oxford. She has a background as a practitioner in social work and community development, and until recently as a lay Mental Health Act Manager in an NHS Trust. 

Dr Warner’s research interests broadly fall under the umbrella of sociological approaches to risk in health and social care, with a particular focus on using qualitative research methods to understand the way risk is constructed in contemporary society. She is particularly concerned to improve our understanding of the way ‘risk work’ has shaped professional practice and the impact of cultures of inquiry, fear and blame on social workers and others. She has undertaken several projects involving the qualitative analysis of documents such as inquiry reports, serious case reviews and media accounts such as newspaper reports.  

In her early research (including her PhD), Dr Warner focused on the role of homicide inquiries in constructing risk and blame in the mental health field, particularly as these mechanisms intersect with gender and ‘race’. More recently she has shifted attention to parallel processes in child protection and the ‘emotional politics’ of risk, covered in her book ‘The Emotional Politics of Social Work and Child Protection’. She has also developed an interest in understanding the way people negotiate everyday risk and insecurity; especially the role of ‘affective community spaces’ such as cafes and libraries in the lives of people who are perceived as outsiders or are otherwise marginalised. 

The main aim of all her work is to contribute to the production of critical knowledge and understanding that will help produce positive change.  

Research interests

One major strand of Dr Warner’s current work involves the analysis of political and media discourses around risk in child protection – specifically in response to child abuse deaths. In her research on the ‘Baby P’ case, she used qualitative documentary analysis to understand more about the role of politicians and the press in the events that unfolded. She has also investigated the newspaper coverage of the case in relation to critical moral panic theory, arguing that an analysis of class politics is fundamentally important in understanding how the case was reported. This research is reported in two recent articles: ‘Heads must roll’? Emotional politics, the press, and the death of Baby P' and 'Social work, class politics and risk in the moral panic over Baby P'

The second major strand of Dr Warner’s current research focuses on ‘affective community spaces’, and is in collaboration with Gerry Bennison and Dawn Talbot. They are interested in the care that people experience in everyday places such as cafes and libraries. Their first research project was a study of a local cafe, where they showed how ‘care work’ and subtle forms of risk management are undertaken in everyday and mundane ways in sites not normally associated with caring. They investigate how such work is carried out by people who have no formal or informal responsibility to care or manage risk, and in ways that are invisible to all but those that are directly involved in the relationship. This study is reported in their recent article 'The cafe as affective community space: reconceptualising care and emotional labour in everyday life' in Critical Social Policy. They have recently turned their attention to libraries as sites of care and emotional labour. 

Since spring 2008, Dr Warner has been engaged in a knowledge exchange project on the theme of risk and decision-making with staff and senior managers in Kent County Council’s Children’s and Adult’s Social Services Directorates. The aim of this work is to address the current negative preoccupation with risk and fear of blame in social work and social care so that practice (including management practice) is more positively oriented. One outcome of this collaboration was that Kent County Council co-funded a research studentship, now held by Jade Johns. The aim of her PhD research is to examine risk, decision-making and the exercise of discretion by practitioners. 

Dr Warner is also currently collaborating with an international group of academics who all share an interest in risk and the human services across the three domains of mental health, children and families and criminal justice. The aim of the group is to look 'beyond the risk paradigm' in each of these three service domains and to develop a number of different strands of work to help effect change. One strand of their work will be a series of edited books.  


At undergraduate level, Dr Warner teaches a module on research for social work practice. At postgraduate level she convenes the module 'Research and Dissertation' on the MA Social Work.  


Dr Warner currently co-supervises PhD students undertaking research on a wide range of topics including: 

  • Threshold decision making about risk in social work as a moral activity 
  • The experience of early stage dementia with a focus on gender and social class 
  • Practitioner perceptions of vulnerability in adults at risk of abuse 
  • Death of the Punitive Turn? Penal Tolerance in Contemporary Youth Justice
  • Social work responses to women with a learning disability who experience domestic violence 



  • Member of the British Sociological Association and the BSA Sociology of Mental Health Study Group
  • Co-convenor of the BSA Risk and Society Study Group 
  • School representative on the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee’s Research Sub-committee 
  • Editorial board member of Health, Risk and Society and Sociology Compass and book review co-editor of the British Journal of Social Work (with Dr Shepard Masocha) 
  • Registered social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy  



  • Warner, J. (2020). The politics of proximity in the age of social distancing. Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 Magazine [Online]. Available at: https://sw2020covid19.group.shef.ac.uk/2020/04/08/the-politics-of-proximity-in-the-age-of-social-distancing/.
  • Warner, J. (2018). Emotional Interest Representation and the Politics of Risk in Child Protection. Politics and Governance [Online] 6. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i4.1521.
    This article explores the emotional dimensions of political representation by British Members of Parliament in relation to child protection. The public speech acts and first-hand accounts of three MPs are drawn upon as examples. These highlight different forms of emotional interest representation that arise following the death of a local child from severe abuse or neglect and in response to anxieties in the community about risk. Firstly, I examine the role of the MP in seeking to embody their constituency in the public expression of collective emotional responses and to defend it from feelings of guilt and shame. Personal feelings of guilt and a consciousness of the politician’s role in attributing blame are then considered. Thirdly, I explore the role of the MP as trusted envoy for anxieties about risk to individual children within their constituencies. The article draws on Berezin’s concept of the secure state and Hochschild’s notion of politicians as feeling legislators, and is based on qualitative documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with MPs. It is argued that the emotional processes outlined are central to understanding the problematic relationship between politics and state social work that fuels the cycle of crisis and reform in children's services in the UK.
  • Featherstone, B., Gupta, A., Morris, K. and Warner, J. (2016). Let’s stop feeding the risk monster: towards a social model of ‘child protection’. Families, Relationships and Societies [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204674316X14552878034622.
    This article explores how the child protection system currently operates in England. It analyses how policy and practice has developed, and articulates the need for an alternative approach. It draws from the social model as applied in the fields of disability and mental health, to begin to sketch out more hopeful and progressive possibilities for children, families and communities. The social model specifically draws attention to the economic, environmental and cultural barriers faced by people with differing levels of (dis)ability, but has not been used to think about ‘child protection’, an area of work in England that is dominated by a focus on risk and risk aversion. This area has paid limited attention to the barriers to ensuring children and young people are cared for safely within families and communities, and the social determinants of much of the harms they experience have not been recognised because of the focus on individualised risk factors.
  • Warner, J. (2015). The politics of emotion: what we can learn from responses to child abuse and social work. Discover Society [Online]. Available at: http://discoversociety.org/2015/02/01/the-politics-of-emotion-what-we-can-learn-from-responses-to-child-abuse-and-social-work/.
  • Warner, J., Talbot, D. and Bennison, G. (2013). The cafe as affective community space: reconceptualising care and emotional labour in everyday life. Critical Social Policy [Online] 33:305-324. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261018312449811.
    The importance of cafes in fulfilling certain political, cultural and social functions has long been acknowledged in the social sciences. Despite this interest, there has been relatively little empirical or theoretical work which explores the intersection between the idea of the cafe and the concept of care as understood in social policy and practice. In particular, there has been little work that considers the social value of sites such as cafes, especially in deprived areas, and the role they may play in the day-to-day lives of people who use them. Through a detailed case study of a cafe, we examine the meaning of community, family and home in terms of the affective connections that places like cafes entail. We argue that powerful forms of everyday care work may be found in such sites, and we advocate for greater awareness in social policy of the complex and multilayered nature of emotional labour in this context.
  • Warner, J. (2013). ‘Heads Must Roll’? Emotional politics, the press and the death of Baby P. British Journal of Social Work [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct039.
    In the major reforms and reviews of social work in the UK that followed the death of Baby P in 2007, significant attention has been paid to the relationship between social work and the media. The College of Social Work, established in 2012, has created a media centre, commissioned and published research into media ethics, and produced a media guide for social workers. Whilst The Munro Review of Child Protection explicitly addressed the responsibilities of politicians in relation to media stories about social work, there has been little detailed analysis of their role. This paper presents findings from research undertaken by the author involving the analysis of ‘moral talk’ in political and press accounts of the death of Baby P. I argue that politicians, in conjunction with the press, actively mobilised public anger towards social work through their responses. The paper further suggests that politicians and the press have a shared mutual interest in the co-authorship of ‘bad’ stories about social work. This paper is timely given the continuing impact of the social work reform agenda and the potential implications of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press in Britain.
  • Warner, J. (2013). Social work, class politics and risk in the moral panic over Baby P. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 15:217-233. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698575.2013.776018.
    The hostile reaction to social workers following the conviction of the killers of Baby P in November 2008 was unprecedented even by the standards of previous high-profile child abuse deaths, such as Maria Colwell and Victoria Climbie. Media coverage, particularly in the press, was extensive. Reaction to the case has precipitated major reforms across social work at all levels. In this article, I argue that these events need to be understood through critical analysis of the political, ideological and symbolic dimensions of the reaction to Baby P's death. I show that recent developments in critical moral panic theory are useful in providing the basis for such an analysis-particularly the idea of moral panic as 'an extreme risk discourse' linked to processes of moral regulation, and as an extreme form of othering. I draw on research involving the qualitative document analysis of press reports about Baby P that were published during the first week of media coverage in November 2008, following the criminal conviction of his killers and the lifting of reporting restrictions. I show how the reaction to the brutality of Baby P's death also reflected deep anxieties about 'new' class formations in contemporary Britain, specifically the behaviours of an imagined dangerous, contaminating underclass, and involved the assertion of middle-class identities. In its complex and contradictory constructions of social workers in the case as 'folk devils', the moral panic over Baby P revisits profound, unresolved moral disturbance about social work's necessary propinquity to the underclass and its capacity for moral regulation and social control.
  • Warner, J. and Sharland, E. (2010). Editorial to risk and social work: critical perspectives Warner, J. and Sharland, E. eds. British Journal of Social Work [Online] 40:1035-1045. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq054.
    We are very pleased to introduce this special issue of the British Journal of Social Work on risk and social work. The issue distils what is known about risk in the context of social work, and critically explores and elaborates on some of the major themes that have emerged and are emergent as ‘risk’ has come to occupy centre stage in our field.

    Interest in the concept of risk in the context of social work research, theory, education and practice has grown rapidly over the past ten to fifteen years, encompassing an increasingly wide range of questions and areas of enquiry. These have included, at the micro level, empirical work on the processes of risk assessment with specific service user groups, at the meso level organisational and cross-organisational strategies for risk management, and at the macro level theoretical analysis of social work in a risk society. Cross-cutting these have been concerns with balancing risks with rights or with needs, counterposing risk to services users with risk to professionals and professions, and debates about how risk itself should be defined, let alone the definition operationalised.

    Attention to the concept of risk in social work mirrors similar and growing engagement with risk in cognate social sciences. Likewise, concerns with risk extend to wider disciplinary and professional arenas, such as medicine and engineering, and at multiple policy levels reaching as far as the Cabinet Office (Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, 2002). As Power (2004) observes, ‘Risk management and risk “talk” are all around us’ (p. 9). The picture internationally confirms that preoccupation with risk is not just a ‘British disease’. Recent work from Australia, for example, highlights that ‘Risk assessment and risk management have emerged as central organising principles for an increasing number of health and welfare programs’ (Green, 2007).
  • Warner, J. (2009). The sociology of mental health: a brief review of major approaches. Sociology Compass [Online] 3:630-643. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00224.x.
    The article emphasises the importance of making sense of the theoretical debate in the sociology of mental health in order to ‘position’ the wide range of studies that have contributed to this field within three main approaches. The article indicates ways in which various studies have proved highly influential and continue to form the basis for research, policy and practice. Sociological concepts such as stigma continue to resonate as they highlight the sense in which negative social attitudes often make life harder for those who are already experiencing distress. The politics of risk in mental health, which has become a particularly powerful force in recent years, has made the prevailing climate more and not less stigmatising for those identified with ‘mental illness’. The article concludes by arguing that the sociology of mental health continues to offer the conceptual and theoretical foundation from which negative associations can be challenged and overturned.
  • Warner, J. (2009). Smoking, stigma and human rights in mental health: going up in smoke?. Social Policy and Society [Online] 8:275-286. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746408004788.
    Debates about the ban on smoking in public places have centred on the right to self-determination and privacy versus the right to health. This paper addresses the issue of smoking in relation to mental health and focuses on the right to dignity and respect. The public health agenda on smoking has involved the mobilisation of stigma to persuade people to give up. The paper argues that this strategy risks adding to the stigma and process of ‘othering’ that many mental health service users already experience and is also likely to be ineffective in reducing smoking rates, particularly among heavy smokers.
  • Warner, J. and Gabe, J. (2008). Risk, mental disorder and social work practice: a gendered landscape. British Journal of Social Work [Online] 38:117-134. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl334.
    Whilst the importance of gender for social work practice, risk and mental health has been recognized theoretically for some time, few attempts have been made to explore this area empirically. This paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study of social work practice in relation to mental health service users perceived to be ‘high-risk’. Findings suggest, first, that the concept ‘high-risk’ was gendered because the primary focus in social work practice was on the risks posed by male service users to others. Second, female social workers in the present study were found to have more female service users from their caseloads who had been defined as ‘high-risk’ compared with their male counterparts. The paper goes on to explore this apparent congruence between female social workers and female service users and highlights how the management of risk could be considered gendered because it reflects a worker’s (perceived) capacity in cultural terms to ‘decode’ the nature of the risks that their clients face as gendered subjects. The paper demonstrates how the intersections between risk, mental disorder and social work practice can therefore be understood as a gendered landscape. It concludes by highlighting the implications of these findings for social work practice and research.
  • Warner, J. (2006). Inquiry reports as active texts and their function in relation to professional practice in mental health. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 8:223-237. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698570600871661.
    Inquiries into adverse events make a significant contribution to the way risk is understood in modern society and the reports they produce therefore represent an important textual development. Despite their importance, there have been few empirical studies to evaluate the impact of inquiry reports as documents, particularly with regard to their symbolic functions and their intertextuality with media accounts. This paper focuses on the function of homicide inquiry reports in mental health in the UK. Such reports have been significant because they are symptomatic of increased levels of anxiety associated with mental illness in post-community care society and also because they have served to exacerbate these anxieties. The paper draws upon social workers' accounts from an empirical study to demonstrate how reports have behaved as active documents in structuring social relations and responses to risk in mental health. The paper argues that inquiry reports in this field have taken on the status of modern allegories with powerful symbolic functions, through which they have actively reconstituted defensive practice among professionals. It is concluded that these findings are relevant in other fields such as medicine, where the wider impact of inquiry reports warrants closer attention.
  • Warner, J. (2006). Community care and the location and governance of risk in mental health. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 7.
  • Warner, J. and Gabe, J. (2004). Risk and liminality in mental health social work. Health, Risk & Society [Online] 6:387-399. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698570412331323261.
    From a socio-cultural standpoint, the concept of otherness is central to explaining the way risk is associated with certain social groups rather than others. In the mental health field, writers have frequently employed the concept of otherness to describe the ways in which mental health service users have been perceived, especially since the implementation of community care policies in the UK in the 1990s. Despite its popularity, few empirical studies have explored the concept of otherness and its use in explaining the risks associated with being mentally ill in any depth, and fewer still have done so in relation to professional practice. The present paper draws upon data from semi-structured interviews with 39 mental health social workers in order to explore the relevance of this concept in risk assessment. The paper employs the concept of liminal otherness as an analytic tool to explain how social workers assessed the risk of clients who were 'difficult to place' because of uncertainty about whether their behaviour was the result of their personality or their mental illness. It is concluded that liminality is relevant to understanding the following: the way in which some service users are found 'in-between' places in terms of service provision; the allocation of responsibility for the management of the risks they represent to social work as a liminal profession; and the symbolic importance of 'the street' as a liminal space within which forms of 'racial otherness' have become central to contemporary constructions of community care.


  • Warner, J. (2015). The Emotional Politics of Social Work and Child Protection. [Online]. Policy Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781447318422.001.0001.
    For several decades, social work and child protection systems have been subject to accelerating cycles of crisis and reform, with each crisis involving intense media and political scrutiny. In understanding the nature and causes of this cycle, little attention has been paid to the importance of collective emotions. Using a range of cases from the UK, and also considering cases from the Netherlands, the US and New Zealand, this book introduces the concept of emotional politics. It shows how collective emotions, such as anger, shame, fear and disgust, are central to constructions of risk and blame, and are generated and reflected by official documents, politicians and the media. The book considers strategies for challenging these ‘emotional politics’, including identifying models for a more politically engaged stance for the social work profession.

Book section

  • Warner, J., Heller, N., Sharland, E. and Stanford, S. (2017). The historical context of the risk paradigm in mental health policy and practice: how did we get here?. In: Stanford, S., Heller, N. R., Sharland, E. and Warner, J. eds. Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Mental Health Policy and Practice. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Stanford, S., Heller, N., Sharland, E. and Warner, J. (2017). Moving beyond neoliberal rationalities of risk in mental health policy and practice. In: Stanford, S., Sharland, E., Heller, N. R. and Warner, J. eds. Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Mental Health Policy and Practice. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://he.palgrave.com/page/detail/beyond-the-risk-paradigm-in-mental-health-policy-and-practice-sonya-stanford/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137441355#.
  • Sharland, E., Heller, N., Stanford, S. and Warner, J. (2017). Conclusion: remoralizing risk in mental health policy and practice. In: Stanford, S., Heller, N. R., Sharland, E. and Warner, J. eds. Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Mental Health Policy and Practice. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://he.palgrave.com/page/detail/beyond-the-risk-paradigm-in-mental-health-policy-and-practice-sonya-stanford/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137441355#.
  • Warner, J. and Milne, A. (2009). Older people with lifelong mental health problems. In: Williamson, T. ed. Older People’s Mental Health Today: A Handbook. Hove: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd.
  • Warner, J. (2007). Community care, risk and the shifting locus of danger and vulnerability in mental health (Chapter 3, in Health,Risk and Vulnerability). In: Petersen, A. and Wilkinson, I. M. eds. Health, Risk and Vulnerability. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon. Available at: http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Health_Risk_and_Vulnerability/9780415383080.
    Health,Risk and Vulnerability :

    The concept of risk is one of the most suggestive terms for evoking the cultural character of our times and for defining the purpose of social research. Risk attitudes and behaviours are understood to comprise the dominant experience of culture, politics and society in our times. "Health, Risk and Vulnerability" investigates the personal and political dimensions of health risk that structure everyday thought and action. In this innovative book, international contributors reflect upon the meaning and significance of risk across a broad range of social and institutional contexts, exploring current issues such as: the 'escalation of the medicalization of life', involving the pathologization of normality and blurring of the divide between clinical and preventive medicine; the tendency for mental health service users to be regarded as representing a risk to others rather than being 'at risk' and vulnerable themselves; the development of health care systems to identify risk and prevent harm women's reactions to 'high risk' screening results during pregnancy and how they communicate with other women about risk men and the use the internet to reconstruct their social and sexual identities. Charting new terrain in the sociology of health and risk, and focusing on the connections between them, "Health, Risk and Vulnerability" offers new perspectives on an important field of contemporary debate and provides an invaluable resource for students, teachers, researchers, and policy makers.
  • Warner, J. (2007). Structural stigma, institutional trust and the risk agenda in mental health policy. In: Clarke, K., Maltby, T. and Kennett, P. eds. Social Policy Review 19: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy 2007. The Policy Press/Social Policy Association., pp. 201-220.

Edited book

  • Warner, J. (2017). Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Mental Health Policy and Practice. Stanford, S., Sharland, E., Heller, N. R. and Warner, J. eds. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Edited journal

  • Warner, J. and Sharland, E. eds. (2010). Risk and social work: critical perspectives (Special Issue). British Journal of Social Work 40.

Research report (external)

  • Warner, J., Milne, A. and Peet, J. (2010). My Name Is Not Dementia. [Online]. Alzheimer’s Society. Available at: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/.
    This literature review forms the first part of a research project which sets out to establish
    key quality of life indicators for people with a diagnosis of dementia using evidence that
    draws directly on their own views and experiences. A central aim in developing these
    indicators is to provide commissioners, service providers, unpaid carers and people with
    dementia themselves the means to evaluate quality of life and well-being in relation to
    the services they are providing or receiving.
    The project took place shortly after the publication by the government of the first
    ‘National Dementia Strategy for England’ (Department of Health 2009). This sets out
    three key steps in terms of improving quality of life for people with dementia and their
    carers: public education; proper and timely diagnosis of dementia; and development of
    appropriate services for people who have dementia and their carers. It is likely that the
    indicators developed through the research of which this review forms a part will include
    measures that reflect these three key elements of the dementia strategy and may help
    in monitoring its effectiveness.
    Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of brain disorders that involve a
    progressive deterioration in cognitive function resulting eventually in severe cognitive
    impairment. The individual with dementia experiences a gradual decline in their ability
    to understand, remember, reason, communicate and use learned skills; mood changes
    are also common as the part of the brain that controls emotion is affected by the
    disease (Alzheimer’s Society 2007).


  • Trif, G. (2018). Lost in Transition? The Mitigating Role of Social Capital in Negotiating Life After Care of Youth from Romania and England.
    Most young people today can enjoy an extended stay under parental care unlike young adults who age out of residential, foster care or other alternative care systems ("care leavers"). Care leavers are expected to look after themselves in matters such as securing employment, and housing without necessarily being in possession of a durable supportive social network system. Increasingly, many significant worldwide studies concerning care leavers show the importance of relationship-based practice, and the pivotal role of networking to enhance interpersonal skills and emotional maturity. These ingredients are viewed to contribute to more positive outcomes at adulthood. However, relatively few studies have solely focused on the utilization of social capital and social networks to negotiate independent living. It is this gap that the present study addresses. The dearth of knowledge of the care leavers' own safety net and how they negotiate independent living has driven this research. Qualitative in approach, this empirical research used interviews and vignettes on a sample composed of 58 participants (31 care leavers from Romania and 17 from England ranging from 17 to 29 years of age together with five professionals from each country). Aimed at understanding strategies used to negotiate independent living through the lenses of social capital and social networks, this empirical study subsequently provides key indicators to improve leaving care policy and practice. According to young people's and professionals' testimonies, elements of social capital such as trust, encouragement, reciprocity, and access to information contributed to boosting levels of confidence that further lead to optimization of resources such as employment prospects. A close relationship between social networks/social capital and the participants' outcomes, including individual (enhanced resilience, positive identity formation) and attained socio-economic status has been identified here. This comparative study between Romania and England, chosen for their different welfare systems and wider social contexts, illustrates that social capital and social networks have acted as a main channel to socio-professional integration among the young adults. The findings suggest the essence of having established a strong foundation of support prior to leaving care. Nevertheless, as social capital is in its infancy in this domain, more empirical evidence is necessary to deepen an understanding of the concept's mitigating role in youth well-being and outcomes. This includes whether established capital prior to leaving care can contribute to positive experiences specifically during the early periods of transition. Another aspect to explore is whether fellow colleagues could represent an effective strategy in service provision during the preparatory stages to independence.
  • Coyles, W. (2017). "Everything’s Changed But Everything’s Stayed the Same": Continuity and Change Within Youth Justice Services.
    Recent youth justice policy and practice reforms within England and Wales have placed increasing emphasis upon service decentralisation and professional autonomy. They have thus provided room for manoeuvre for local youth justice services to develop both innovative forms of service delivery and frontline practice that represent a departure from a siloed and risk-centric YOT model of service delivery (Byrne and Case, 2016). Drawing upon empirical data gathered from a comparative case study within two contrasting youth justice services, this thesis explores the extent to which these opportunities have been capitalised upon on the ground. It argues that whilst there have been some examples of innovation in line with emerging critical evidence bases, the local negotiation of the reforms has been problematically characterised by varying degrees of continuity with the largely discredited risk-centric reforms of the New Labour era. The drivers of both continuity and change within local youth justice service delivery are thus explored, as well as the implications of this for service delivery and service users.
  • Johns, J. (2016). Social Work As a Moral Enterprise.
    The research undertaken explored social work as a moral enterprise. The study explored social work practice at the 'front-door' of services for children and older people in one English local authority. The study was primarily an interview-based study, but incorporated direct observation and conversational interviewing in order to explore social work practice within Walmsley local authority.
    Respondents in the four teams were responsible for undertaking assessments, which informed 'threshold-decisions'. The study found social workers were not neutral, impartial decision-makers. Social workers were not merely embedded in decision-making either; decision making was found to be embodied within the culturally and social situated bodies of the social workers.
    The senses provided social workers with a way of 'seeing' service users and getting a 'feel' for a case. Through embodied assessments, and negotiated performances between social workers and service users, identities were ascribed to service users by respondents. The identities were found to reflect a service users' moral and social position; their 'moral status'. The study highlights the visceral nature of social work practice and argues that moral status is an invisible domain within assessments, but furthers understanding of how social workers make sense of cases.
    The study found five 'types' of service user within Walmsley local authority; the Vinnie Jones; the Potentials; the Laughable; the Lovelies and the Challengers. The typology helps demonstrate the relationship between moral status, social locations and risk identities. Additionally, the typology illustrates who was found to be deserving, or morally worthy of 'going the extra mile' for.
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