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Exploring Professional Stereotypes and Learning for Inter-professional Practice: An Example from UK Qualifying Level Social Work Education

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This paper explores the concept of stereotyping from UK social work students' and educators' perspectives. It discusses findings from an exploration of inter-professional practice with two cohorts of final year social work students in a UK university. The authors adapted a questionnaire to initiate discussion about inter-professional working with BA and MA students participating in a specialist child and family social work module. This paper analyses students' responses to the questionnaire and explores wider issues relating to professional stereotyping and identity, discussing the usefulness of these concepts for social work education and collaborative practice. Results suggest that student social workers held both positive and negative assumptions about specific occupations/professions (such as medicine), and that these acted as a mirror or tool for reflecting back their own views of social work identity/ies. We argue that this pedagogic exercise in identifying stereotypical assumptions about ‘others’ may encourage the building of a positive sense of ‘own’ professional identity. We further suggest that students should be encouraged to construct a core social work identity that is dynamic and responsive to changing contexts.
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Keywords: Action Research; Children and Families; Collaboration; Inter-professional Perspectives; Professional Stereotypes; Social Work Identities; Sociological Theories

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Middlesex University, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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