Conceptualisations of social justice: exploring the views of newly-qualified social workers in statutory social work practice

Nicholls, Jack (2021) Conceptualisations of social justice: exploring the views of newly-qualified social workers in statutory social work practice. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
Nicholls.Jack_phd_10023165.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (2MB) | Preview


Cut to the chase

This thesis explores the ways in which newly-qualified statutory social workers (NQSWs) conceptualise social justice. Social justice is widely considered to be a central value to social work but lacks a coherent and consistent definition. The literature presents a range of conceptual variants, and while the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social work in England includes social justice among its requirements for social work practice, it does not explicitly define it.

Drawing on a combination of constructivism and critical realism, I treat social justice as a contestable and contested concept, but one that impacts, and is impacted by, events in world.

Fifteen NQSWs were individually interviewed (alongside five experienced practitioners) about how they understood or defines social justice, what they believed had contributed to their conceptualisation, and what their experiences of social justice in practice were like. The resultant data were thematically analysed. The way participants described their social justice conceptualisations varied. This may be because of the influence of pre-qualifying experience which is, by its very nature, individual.

The main contributions to knowledge of this thesis are threefold. The first is the approach taken to the research. The second is the finding that while participant concepts varied, their descriptions of practice experience were more cohesive. The third is the proposal of a new framework for conceptualising social justice in view of the findings; the Social Justice Tetrahedron. The thesis concludes with discussions of future research, and recommendations for the dissemination of its ideas in social work practice and education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social work, Critical Realism, Politics, Value Pluralism, Contested Concepts
Subjects: L500 Social Work
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2022 10:44
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2022 10:45

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics