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“We are more hands-on, we are more practical” - A case study on institutional frames of social work, and their possible consequences on the relationship between the professional and client.

By Sofia Vassbotn Klasson and Antonia Bengtsson


The purpose of this study is to investigate the institutional frames of social work in Uganda and to discuss their possible consequences for the professional-client relationship. Theoretically our analysis draws on two different perspectives, which we have chosen to call “promoting formal frames in social work” and “promoting relation-based social work”. Empirically the analysis is based on a case study of an NGO in Kampala, Uganda, which works with helping abandoned pregnant teenagers. In this study, a qualitative approach is employed which makes use of method triangulation by combining interviews, participant observations and document analysis. The results indicate that our professional informants experience relation-based social work with weak formal frames. These settings seem to promote flexibility and to allow for the adoption of an individual perspective for each client. On the other hand legal rights for clients seem to be nonexistent and decisions apparently have a risk to be made out of arbitrariness. The conclusion of this study is that social work in Uganda is regulated by other frames than formal ones. It seems impossible to execute social work without any institutional frames. With less formal regulation there is more room for informal norms to affect social work. In the Ugandan context certain religious and cultural norms seem to have a major influence

Topics: Institutional frames, Formal frames, Relation-based social work, Professional-client relationship.
Year: 2015
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