Strengths of qualitative research in social work’s “policy practice”

Keywords: Qualitative Research; Social Work; Daily Practice; Policy Practice


In this article we defend the argument that the immersion of qualitative research in social worker’s daily practice, allowing its supra immediacy comprehension and analysis, can increase social work’s “policy practice”. The possibility to influence policies, to assess and build renewed responses to structural constraints and social injustices, and to critically discuss and influence service’s functioning and power structures is very connected with the ways of construction and use of practice-based evidences. Qualitative research can be used by social workers in daily practice to achieve these goals. By the use of comprehensive approaches qualitative research gives significance to politics’ concepts and highlights the impacts of policies and intervention on people and territories. This argument is based on two main assumptions: (i) The qualitative research allows joining analytically fragments of social reality, identifying common patterns under the appearance of daily practice heterogeneity, and (ii) It permits the systematization of data over the apparent chaotic discourses without neutralizing the uniqueness of personal narratives.

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Author Biographies

Clara Cruz Santos, Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências de Educação da Universidade de Coimbra

Clara Cruz Santos (P.hD) is Professor of Social Work in Coimbra University. She is the coordinator of the master of social intervention, Innovation and entrepreneurship (MISIE) and the coordinator of the Social Work (BA) in Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of Coimbra University

Cristina Pinto Albuquerque, Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências de Educação da Universidade de Coimbra
She is Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra. She has a doctorate in Letters (Département de Sociologie, Social Travail et Politiques Sociales) in the area of specialization Social Work and Social Policy, from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). She teaches in the areas of Social Policy, Ethics, Social Work and Social Entrepreneurship, with several publications in these areas and funded research projects (national and international), focused on issues of unemployment, poverty, social mediation, local development and trafficking in Human Beings. She is an integrated researcher in the Center of Interdisciplinary Studies about the XXth Century (University of Coimbra) and a collaborator researcher in the Interdisciplinary Center of Social Sciences, New University of Lisbon (CICS.NOVA) Units of R&D evaluated by Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology as Very Good. She has a Post Doctorate in Philosophy and Politics, PHILéPOL Research Centre (Philosophie, Épistémologie, Politique) of Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité. Currently she is vice-director of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra (2013-2017) and Coordinator of the PhD Programme in Social Work.