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Relationship-Based Research in Social Work Understanding Practice Research by Kathleen Russell, Gavin Swann

Relationship-Based Research in Social Work Understanding Practice Research



Relationship-Based Research in Social Work Understanding Practice Research by Kathleen Russell, Gavin Swann

Relationship-based research is founded on the idea that human relationships are of paramount importance and should be central to social work research and practice. Drawing on psychodynamic and systemic understandings of research and practice, this book offers practitioners and academics an insight into what constitutes relationship-based approaches to research. These ideas are brought to life by illustrative case studies of research projects carried out in England and Finland, where the concept originated. The authors clearly demonstrate how this approach can be applied across the social work sector and provide a model for practice. This will be a key reference for social work students, practitioners on post-qualifying courses, research students, and consultant and senior practitioner social workers promoting research-informed practice.


This unique UK-Finnish collaboration is an exciting contribution to our understanding of relationships in social work practice research. Providing insights from many diverse research projects, it highlights that critical reflection on roles and relationships is at the heart of the co-creation of knowledge in practice research. For both practitioners engaging in practice research and researchers interested in relationship-based approaches, this book is highly recommended. -- Professor Martin Webber, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, UK Building upon Ruch's pioneering work on the centrality of relationship building and sustaining in social work practice, this excellent volume continues the exploration of the role of relationships in the conduct of practice research that immerses the researcher in the complexities of the lives of service users. The eight case examples provide rich evidence, using ethnographic and qualitative research methods, of the sensitivities and reflective thinking required in this form of innovative practice research. I highly recommend this volume for those interested in integrating the teaching of research and practice. -- Michael J. Austin, Mack Professor School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley, USA This current collection illuminating European practice-research studies convinces us that rather than being bogged down by a weighty and illusory gold standard of quantitative experimental research, we allow our students and ourselves to closely follow the many and evolving streams of social work practice globally, we may be heading toward a golden age of practice research. Ruch and Julkunen are to be congratulated for calling our attention to one exceedingly important route to that destination. -- From the foreword by Irwin Epstein, PhD This book, together with its sister volume, will together become the textbook for relationship-based research in the social sciences. It is a work of courage, moral strength and vision but also one of the most impressive thinking tool in research that I have come across. -- Steve Bambrough, Children, Young People and Families Department, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust * Journal of Social Work Practice *

About the Author

Gillian Ruch is Professor of Social Work and works in the Department of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Sussex. Ilse Julkunen is Professor in Practice Research in Social Work, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki and the scientific leader of the Mathilda Wrede Institute, Finland.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st March 2016


Kathleen Russell, Gavin Swann

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Jessica Kingsley Publishers


240 pages


Social work



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