UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the spaces between theory and practice : a framework to integrate a structural approach and… Peters, Heather Ione 2012

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
24-ubc_2012_spring_peters_heather.pdf [ 4.15MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 24-1.0072727.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0072727-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0072727-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0072727-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0072727-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0072727-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0072727-source.json
Full Text
24-1.0072727-fulltext.txt
Citation
24-1.0072727.ris

Full Text

EXPLORING THE SPACES BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE: A FRAMEWORK TO INTEGRATE A STRUCTURAL APPROACH AND SOCIAL WORK ACTIVITIES by HEATHER IONE PETERS B.A., The University of Saskatchewan, 1987 B.S.W., The University of British Columbia, 1993 M.S.W., Carleton University, 1999  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Social Work)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  April 2012  © Heather Ione Peters, 2012  ABSTRACT This dissertation explores and examines the use of structural social work theory in practice, in order to better understand the processes involved in effectively integrating theory into practice. Structural social work theory was developed in Canada and has been in use for about 30 years. It is related to other progressive approaches such as radical, feminist, antiracist, anti-oppressive and critical social work. The first chapter outlines the history of progressive social work and situates structural social work theory in this context. The literature review identifies issues and concerns with theory-practice integration specific to structural social work and other progressive social work theories, as well as theory-practice integration in general in the social work field. While the social work literature notes the problems with theory-practice integration, there are few studies examining the factors in the successful use of theory in practice. In addition, the literature tends to focus on individual factors in theory-practice integration, and there is limited research examining interactions between these factors. In-depth interviews were conducted with social work practitioners who utilized a structural social work approach in their practice. Follow-up interviews, a questionnaire and the analysis of documents mentioned by participants provided additional data. The findings demonstrate that participants’ use of structural social work theory in practice progressed through a series of six developmental stages. The stages began with the use of conventional social work activities, and moved to seeing the effects of structural oppression, forging alliances, encompassing structural goals into conventional social work activities, engaging in specifically structural activities, and culminated in adapting structural social work theory for use in practice. Participants’ use of the structural approach and the development through the  ii  stages were influenced by external contexts. The interactions between participants and the contexts, or structures, they encountered reflect the agency-structure dialectic found in structural social work theory.  iii  PREFACE An adaptation of chapter two has been published in the following textbook: Peters, Heather I. (2010). Chapter Three: Situating Practitioners’ Experiences in a Model of TheoryPractice Integration. In Structural Social Work in Action: Examples from Practice, S. F. Hick, H. I. Peters, T. Corner, & T. London, (Eds.). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc. The published chapter is based on the ideas, information and format that came out of the literature review for this dissertation, but is not identical to the chapter in this dissertation. I am the sole author of this published chapter. This research study was approved by the University of British Columbia’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB) and has met all of the criteria for research with human subjects. The BREB Certificate of Approval for this study is #H09-01862.  iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... ii	
   Preface...................................................................................................................................... iv	
   Table of Contents ...................................................................................................................... v	
   List of Tables ........................................................................................................................... ix	
   List of Figures ........................................................................................................................... x	
   Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................. xi	
   Dedication .............................................................................................................................. xiii	
   Chapter One. Situating Structural Social Work Theory ........................................................... 1	
   The Early Days of Social Work ............................................................................................ 1	
   Radical Social Work ............................................................................................................. 2	
   Feminist Social Work ........................................................................................................... 4	
   Anti-Racist Social Work ....................................................................................................... 6	
   Linking Oppressions ............................................................................................................. 8	
   Concerns with Anti-Oppressive and Anti-Discriminatory Discussions ............................. 11	
   Postmodernism and Poststructuralism ................................................................................ 13	
   Critical Social Theory ......................................................................................................... 17	
   Structural Social Work Theory ........................................................................................... 21	
   Situating Structural Social Work Theory............................................................................ 27	
   Chapter Two. A Review of the Literature on Theory-Practice Integration ............................ 29	
   Framing the Literature Review ........................................................................................... 32	
   Reviewing the Literature Relevant to the Spaces Between Theory and Practice ............... 34	
   Educational space............................................................................................................ 34	
   Organizational space ....................................................................................................... 39	
   Personal space ................................................................................................................. 43	
   Client space ..................................................................................................................... 47	
   Theoretical space ............................................................................................................ 50	
   Other spaces and comments ............................................................................................ 54	
   Summation of spaces between structural social work theory and practice ..................... 55	
   Potential Complexities of the Spaces.................................................................................. 56	
    v  Spatial overlap ................................................................................................................ 56	
   Agency-structure dialectic .............................................................................................. 57	
   A modern/postmodern view which incorporates general trends with diversity.............. 59	
   The larger contexts of ideology and oppression ............................................................. 59	
   Literature Gaps and Research Questions ............................................................................ 62	
   Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 65	
   Chapter Three. Research Methodology and Design ............................................................... 67	
   Overview of Methodology .................................................................................................. 68	
   Research paradigm/framework ....................................................................................... 68	
   Research approaches ....................................................................................................... 70	
   Grounded theory as the primary focus of the research approach .................................... 72	
   Research Design ................................................................................................................. 81	
   Participant recruitment .................................................................................................... 81	
   Participant sampling and definitions of theory ............................................................... 82	
   Participant selection ........................................................................................................ 83	
   Informed consent and ethics approval ............................................................................ 86	
   Data collection ................................................................................................................ 86	
   Steps to ensure rigour and to move the analysis beyond the literature review ............... 96	
   Data Analysis ...................................................................................................................... 98	
   Ethical dilemmas ........................................................................................................... 103	
   Validity ......................................................................................................................... 104	
   Positioning of the researcher ......................................................................................... 106	
   Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 107	
   Chapter Four. Results I: Descriptive Information................................................................. 108	
   Overview of Findings and How They Are Organized ...................................................... 108	
   Participant demographics .............................................................................................. 111	
   Development of theoretical saturation during the research process ............................. 118	
   Description of texts and context for textual analysis .................................................... 124	
   Spaces, places and categories ....................................................................................... 127	
   Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 129	
   Chapter Five. Results II: Supports and Barriers to Doing Structural Social Work .............. 130	
    vi  Summary of the Categories............................................................................................... 130	
   Themes Across Spaces...................................................................................................... 132	
   The Six External Spaces of Structures .............................................................................. 135	
   First space: Organizational ........................................................................................... 135	
   Second space: Client ..................................................................................................... 160	
   Third space: Other organizations, professionals, groups and individuals .................... 166	
   Fourth space: Educational ............................................................................................. 178	
   Fifth space: Personal ..................................................................................................... 190	
   Sixth space: Theoretical ................................................................................................ 204	
   Concluding Thoughts ........................................................................................................ 219	
   Oppression and power................................................................................................... 219	
   Ideology ........................................................................................................................ 221	
   Texts and documents..................................................................................................... 222	
   Complexities and overlaps ............................................................................................ 225	
   Chapter Six. Results III: Practitioner Space—Utilizing Supports and Resisting Barriers ... 228	
   Stages of Development in the Practitioner Space ............................................................. 229	
   First stage: Engaging in traditional social work activities ............................................ 232	
   Second stage: Personal growth and seeing and thinking about structures .................... 236	
   Third stage: Forging alliances ....................................................................................... 245	
   Fourth stage: Redefining conventional social work to include a structural approach .. 254	
   Fifth stage: Structural activities inside the system and working outside the system ... 267	
   Sixth stage: Adapting and developing structural theory for practice ............................ 287	
   Findings that Span the Developmental Stages .................................................................. 292	
   Movement across developmental stages ....................................................................... 292	
   History and time ............................................................................................................ 294	
   Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 298	
   Chapter Seven. Discussion, Recommendations and Conclusion .......................................... 301	
   Purpose of the Research .................................................................................................... 302	
   Overview and Synthesis of the Theoretical Framework ................................................... 302	
   The core of the theoretical framework .......................................................................... 302	
   External spaces between theory and practice ................................................................ 303	
    vii  Stages of structural social work theory-practice integration......................................... 304	
   Movement across the stages.......................................................................................... 307	
   Recognizing shifts between stages................................................................................ 308	
   Moving backwards through the stages .......................................................................... 310	
   Findings across the categories ...................................................................................... 311	
   Use of the term ‘spaces’ ................................................................................................ 315	
   Additional comments on findings ................................................................................. 317	
   Limitations, Potentials and Recommendations ................................................................. 321	
   Limitations and consistency with grounded theory and critical theory ........................ 321	
   The potential of the theoretical framework ................................................................... 322	
   Recommendations for future research .......................................................................... 325	
   Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 326	
   References ............................................................................................................................. 327	
   Appendices............................................................................................................................ 353	
   Appendix A. Email or Letter Invitation ............................................................................ 353	
   Appendix B. Participant Recruitment Poster .................................................................... 355	
   Appendix C. Information Sheet (Description of Research) .............................................. 356	
   Appendix D. Informed Consent ........................................................................................ 358	
   Appendix E. Interview Guide ........................................................................................... 363	
   Appendix F. Socio-Demographic Questionnaire .............................................................. 368	
    viii  LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Participant Demographics  111	
    Table 2. Participant Education and Work Experience .......................................................... 113	
   Table 3. Description of Documents/Texts ............................................................................ 127	
   Table 4. Spaces Between Theory and Practice Pre- and Post-Data Analysis ....................... 131	
   Table 5. First Space: Organizational ..................................................................................... 159	
   Table 6. Second Space: Client .............................................................................................. 165	
   Table 7. Third Space: Other Organizations, Associations, Professionals and Individuals ... 177	
   Table 8. Fourth Space: Educational ...................................................................................... 189	
   Table 9. Fifth Space: Personal .............................................................................................. 203	
   Table 10. Sixth Space: Theoretical ....................................................................................... 218	
   Table 11. Social Work Activities .......................................................................................... 233	
   Table 12. Summary of Stage Two: Personal Growth and Seeing and Thinking About Structures ...................................................................................................................... 245	
   Table 13. Summary of Stage Three: Forging Alliances ....................................................... 254	
   Table 14. Summary of Stage Four: Redefining Conventional Social Work to Include a Structural Approach ...................................................................................................... 267	
   Table 15. Summary of Stage Five: Structural Activities Inside the System and Working Outside the System ....................................................................................................... 287	
   Table 16. Summary of Stage Six: Adapting and Developing Structural Theory for Practice ....................................................................................................................................... 291	
    ix  LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Educational Space ................................................................................................... 38	
   Figure 2. Organizational Space ............................................................................................... 43	
   Figure 3. Personal Space ......................................................................................................... 47	
   Figure 4. Client Space ............................................................................................................. 50	
   Figure 5. Theoretical Space .................................................................................................... 54	
   Figure 6. The Spaces Between Theory and Practice............................................................... 55	
   Figure 7. Theory-Practice Integration ..................................................................................... 61	
   Figure 8. Approaches to Discourse Analysis .......................................................................... 80	
   Figure 9. The Core and the Contexts of Structural Theory-Practice Integration .................. 109	
   Figure 10. External Spaces Between Theory and Practice ................................................... 227	
   Figure 11. The Practitioner Space ......................................................................................... 230	
   Figure 12. Details of the Practitioner Space ......................................................................... 300	
   Figure 13. Theoretical Framework for Structural Social Work Theory-Practice Integration: The Spaces Between Theory and Practice ........................................................................ 314	
    x  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There are many people who supported and encouraged me throughout my studies. Eight of us started the program at the same time and we quickly developed friendships that have lasted. I lived away from home for the better part of my first two years of course work, and these friendships made all the difference to me in feeling connected and grounded during that time. Conversations in, and out, of the classroom challenged my thinking and kept me laughing, sometimes at the same time! Thank you. The support from my supervisor and committee members was paramount. Thank you to my supervisor, Paule McNicoll, for her calm, patient and supportive work with me, and her ability to help me move steadily forward even when I felt stuck. Thank you to Deb O’Connor and Gillian Walker, my committee members, who offered supportive, thoughtful and challenging comments throughout the process. These efforts made my work stronger. Everyone remained patient and encouraging as I endeavored to complete my research and dissertation while working full time. I owe a debt of gratitude to my participants. Participants cared deeply about their social work practice and the structural approach; this was demonstrated by their introspection during the interviews as well as the amount of time they were willing to share with me. There are numerous others who offered support during my journey. Thank you to the faculty members and staff in the School of Social Work who offered support to me personally, and all of us in our cohort. Thank you as well to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for support in the form of a Canada Graduate Scholarship, which allowed me to focus on my studies and research. Thank you to my friends at home  xi  who offered writing hideaways for me to use, who were always there when I needed a break, and who were understanding of the many times I was hidden in my office working. Most importantly, I wish to thank my partner and other family members. Thank you to my parents, Ione and Adolph Peters, who have supported and believed in me through all of my education programs. Thank you particularly to my mother for proofreading all of my early papers through high school, my first degree and my MSW thesis. Her constant encouragement and writing corrections have given me a strong foundation of writing skills and a love of writing. I could not have made it to this point without her support and teaching. Thank you to Dad who taught me to think critically and analytically about everything from newspaper articles to life itself. Thank you to my sister, Crystal Peters, and her partner, David Fast, for their supportive visits, emails and conversations. And thank you especially to my life partner, Bruce Self. He took care of responsibilities at home when I was writing, he reminded me to take breaks in nature and the backcountry, he listened attentively when I thought out loud about my data and findings, and he was unfaltering in his belief that I could do this. Thank you.  xii  DEDICATION  To all structural social workers, especially my participants. And to my supportive family: Bruce, Mom, Dad, Crystal and Dave.  xiii  CHAPTER ONE. SITUATING STRUCTURAL SOCIAL WORK THEORY There are two reasons for exploring the role of structural social work theory in practice. First of all, the theory was developed in Canada and has been a prominent theory in use at several Canadian schools of social work over the last three decades (Mullaly, 1997, 2007). Second, structural social work theory is the oldest social work theory which theorizes about the intersections of oppressions. Anti-oppressive practice began in the late 1960s and early 1970s but the theory was not prominent in academic social work circles until the late 1980s (Dominelli, 2002a). Although critical social theory predates structural social work, the move to articulate a critical social work theoretical framework has been a newer endeavour (Fook, 2002). In contrast, structural social work theory developed in the 1970s with a focus on the inclusion of various oppressions from its inception (Carniol, 1992; Moreau, 1979; Moreau & Leonard, 1989). This chapter will explore structural social work’s antecedents and related theoretical contexts in order to explicate how the theory is situated in the social work discipline.  The Early Days of Social Work An individual-blaming approach to social work evolved out of the English Poor Laws of the 1500s, whereby poverty was addressed with punishment for the purpose of ensuring that people had the proper motivation to seek employment (Carniol, 2005). In the late 1800s, the Charitable Organization Society (C.O.S.) developed in Britain and quickly spread to North America (Carniol, 2005; Reynolds, 1963). However, the focus of these charitable and religious organizations, although more friendly than the original focus on punishment, continued to address poverty by fixing the individual and by distinguishing between  1  deserving and undeserving poor (Carniol, 2005; Finkel, 2006; Hick, 2002; Lundy, 2004). The late 19th century also heralded the development of settlement houses in both Canada and the United States, with a shift in perspective that understood poverty as embedded in societal structures (Finkel, 2006; Hick, 2002; Lundy, 2004; Reynolds, 1963). Since this time, social work has been divided between two streams, the first of which focuses on assisting individuals in meeting their needs and coping with their environments (Lundy, 2004). The second seeks political and social reform to address the root causes of poverty and other issues (Lundy, 2004). The second stream is often referred to as a social justice or progressive social work perspective. It is important to note that the separation between the two streams of social work has never been completely clear-cut. For example, the settlement houses, in addition to addressing social structures, also sought to “reform the poor” (Finkel, 2006, p. 86). Other movements also encompassed social justice thinking to various extents, including the urban reform and social gospel movements (Guest, 2006). It is the focus on social structures that is connected to the current-day development of structural social work theory and various other social justice or progressive perspectives in social work.  Radical Social Work In spite of the social justice focus in some social work arenas in the early 20th century, the most significant swing to this perspective has occurred over the last 30 or more years with much of the writing beginning in the 1970s (C. Campbell, 2003d). The initial developments of radical social work were based in Marx’s critique of capitalism (R. Bailey & Brake, 1975b; Galper, 1975, 1980). Parallel developments occurred in social policy and social welfare discussions (Fox Piven & Cloward, 1971; Galper, 1976; V. George & Wilding, 1985). According to Galper (1980) Marx’s critique, in summation, states that  2  capitalism requires expansion and increasing profits, which are alienated from, and in contradiction to, social, environmental, and health needs of society. Society becomes divided into those who own the means of production, and therefore the profits, and those who sell their labour, although this dichotomy is a simplistic description of a more complex analysis. One of the results of capitalism is pressure to reduce labour costs by increasing efficiency and decreasing wages. Unemployment becomes a benefit to capitalism as the surplus labour assists in maintaining pressure on workers to keep wages low. The competition between labourers for work becomes a struggle for survival creating inequality among people with exploitation being higher among specific groups based on race, gender, age and sexuality, among others; this cycle perpetuates oppression and discrimination (Galper, 1980). Unemployment and discrimination are two of the various social problems that arise out of capitalist economic structures according to Galper. The welfare state has developed in response to the capitalist economy and in the context of a liberal or conservative ideology (Galper, 1975). Although Galper (1975) differentiates between liberalism and conservatism, he states that they both have an overlapping interest in the perpetuation of capitalism and result in a welfare state, which ameliorates a minimum of social problems, so as not to interfere with capitalism’s need for labour. The welfare state is more about supporting and subsidizing the economy than it is about addressing social problems, while functioning to conceal this relationship (R. Bailey & Brake, 1975a, 1975b; Galper, 1975). The provision of social services by social workers is compromised by this hidden mandate and so provides a minimum of support to people in need, focusing instead on moving people back into the work force (R. Bailey & Brake, 1975a, 1975b; Galper, 1975). Social workers become agents for social control to ensure that  3  clients fit into the roles assigned to them (Galper, 1975). Limited resources are managed carefully by creating stigma around accessing services and by strict eligibility requirements. The competition for resources “lead[s] to [an] exacerbation of tensions and divisions among sectors of the population” including between marginalized groups (Galper, 1975, p. 63). According to Marx, capitalism is unsustainable and the resulting ongoing tensions, or internal contradictions, provide opportunities for social and economic transformation through class struggles (Galper, 1980; Leonard, 1975). It is at these points of tension where radical social workers can act to make connections between personal problems and social structures and facilitate the collectivization of people with common issues, which should eventually lead to social change (Galper, 1980; Leonard, 1975). Radical social work does not suggest specific roads to social change, pointing instead to processes of empowerment, collectivization and consciousness-raising to open up paths for social transformation (Galper, 1980).  Feminist Social Work Feminism’s second wave peaked in the late 1960s and 1970s, around the same time as the movement toward radical social work theories, focusing on an examination of women’s issues in the context of patriarchy (Featherstone, 2005; D. E. Smith, 1999). Feminism seeks to understand the inequalities faced by women in the context of societal structures and thus seeks social change to address sexism (Featherstone, 2005; Fook, 1993). Although feminism is diverse and fragmented there are some common elements among feminist perspectives: Integrating the personal and political dimensions of life (Millet, 1969); respecting the diversity encompassed by women (hooks, 2000); seeking more egalitarian forms of  4  social relationships (Collins, 1991); and transforming the existing social order (Adamson et al., 1988). (Dominelli, 2002c, p. 3) The diversity of feminist perspectives is expressed in the various categories described in the literature: liberal, radical, Marxist, socialist, Black (or womanist), lesbian and postmodern feminisms (Dominelli, 2002c; Henley, Meng, O’Brien, McCarthy, & Sockloskie, 1998; Williams, 1989). In the 1970s and 1980s feminist and Marxist theories collided (Armstrong & Armstrong, 1983). One of the contested premises of traditional radical social work and Marxism is that all issues of oppression flow out of capitalism. In discussing feminist, antiracist & ecological movements, Galper states: “It is useful to recognize that the problems which give rise to these movements are rooted in capitalism itself” (Galper, 1980, p. 50). The lip service to issues of sexism with a return to the focus on capitalism as the key issue has spurred feminists on to interrogate Marxism and seek to balance the two analyses (Marxism and feminism) while recognizing their interconnectedness. The discussion of how to integrate Marxism and feminism has a long history, leading to an uneasy truce that is fraught with tension (see, for example, Armstrong & Armstrong, 1983; Camfield, 2002; Sargent, 1981). The same argument that feminists levelled at Marxism, has also been returned to them by Black feminists who stated that feminist theorizing has focused exclusively on the experiences of white middle-class women and has subordinated experiences of racism to those of sexism (Dominelli, 2002c; hooks, 1984; Kline, 1991; Ng, 1991; Thornhill, 1991). Black feminist and womanist perspectives start with race in the examination of their oppression as women, and include an analysis of patriarchy as it is enacted in Black culture (Dominelli, 2002c).  5  Feminist social work theory developed out of the feminist movement and theorizing of the 1960s, coming to fruition later, in the late 1970s and 1980s (Dominelli, 2002c; Dominelli & McLeod, 1989; Featherstone, 2005; Langan, 1992; Langan & Day, 1992; Marchant & Wearing, 1986; Wearing, 1986). Early social work feminists were frustrated by the gender-neutral theories that obscured the gendered nature of social work, and they sought instead to make feminism a central component of social work practice (Dominelli, 2002c; Marchant, 1986; Wearing, 1986). As well, it was argued that radical social work’s dismissal of casework as social control could be addressed with the use of consciousness-raising in feminist practice (Featherstone, 2005). Feminist social work seeks to place women at the centre of analysis and practice. One of the key concepts of feminist practice is to link the personal to the political in the process of redefining social problems, for both professionals and clients (Dominelli, 2002c). While feminism has become prominent in the social work profession, Dominelli (2002a) suggests that it continues to face challenges from more conservative quarters in professional, educational and research arenas.  Anti-Racist Social Work Anti-racism perspectives offered up critiques of Marxism that concurred with feminist critiques of Marxism and socialism: that is a questioning of the subordination of all other oppressions to capitalist analyses (Yee, 2005) just as Black women critiqued feminism for its exclusion of race (Dominelli, 2002c). Anti-racist theorizing includes analyses of immigration policies, theorizing about race and racism as well as early work examining Marxism and racism (for example: Bolaria & Lee, 1988; R. Brown & Brown, 1996; Cox, 1948; U. George, 2003; Henry & Tator, 2006; Matas, 1996). There was renewed work in anti-racist theorizing in the 1960s and 1970s in North America (Henry & Tator, 2006) due in  6  part to the various social movements in the US including large scale and effective civil rights activism during those years (Yee, 2005). Anti-racist theorizing in a social work context became more common in the 1980s (Dominelli, 2002a). Anti-racist theory sees racism as central to social justice discussions, and states that race and racism are socially constructed (Dominelli, 1997; Muszynski, 1991), as are gender and class (Ng, 1991). According to Ng (1991) this is not in contradiction to seeing race, class and gender as social relations: Gender, race/ethnicity, and class are not fixed entities. They are socially constructed in and through productive and reproductive relations in which we all participate. Thus what constitutes sexism, racism, as well as class oppression, changes over time as productive relations change. (p. 21) Dominelli adds: “Racism is a socially constructed and reproduced historically specific phenomenon whose form changes in response to transformation occurring within society’s socio-economic base” and racism changes, in part, depending on the country’s need for imported labour (1997, p. 13). Also key to structural analyses of racism are the concepts of colonialism and imperialism (Loomba, 1998; Ng, 1991; Thornhill, 1991). Loomba (1998) states that colonization is when a group of people take over control of the land, property and governing structures of another group, although the appearance of colonialism differs across time and place (Peters & Self, 2005). In anti-racism contexts, the understanding of structural analyses of race and racism will be different for various populations, including Aboriginal peoples (Henry & Tator, 2006). A common understanding of racism is that it (and all oppression) happens on various levels: individual, cultural and institutional or structural (Henry & Tator, 2006; Mullaly, 2002). Anti-racist social work theory indicates the importance of addressing all three levels  7  of racism in practice (Dominelli, 1997; Mullaly, 2002). Addressing racism in practice also means acknowledging the role of racism in social work history, and changing individual practice means changing the profession as a whole, including social work education (Dominelli, 1997; Nyland, 2006; O'Neill & Yelaja, 1991; Tator, 1996).  Linking Oppressions Commonalities between anti-racist, feminist and radical social work include a focus on understanding the connections between personal lives and political or structural conditions. Yet, each of the separate threads of radical, feminist and anti-racist social work has been critiqued for isolationist perspectives that do not recognize the complex interactions. In the late 1980s and the 1990s, social work practice and policy theorizing moved toward an understanding of intersections of oppression and at the same time expanded to include other forms of oppression such as those based on age (young or elderly), sexual orientation and physical and mental ability (Dalrymple & Burke, 1995; Dominelli, 2002a, 2002b; Langan & Lee, 1989a, 1989b; O'Neill, 1999, 2003; Stainton & Swift, 1996). Various terms have been employed to incorporate these intersections into social work discussions, such as: anti-oppressive practice, social justice, empowerment, and structural social work, among others. Social justice refers to an equitable distribution of resources in society, includes a commitment to human rights, and is a key social work value (Barker, 2003; Lundy, 2004; Mullaly, 2002, 2007). Empowerment is about understanding inequalities in power and seeking to assist people who do not have access to dominant power structures in attaining power and control over their own lives, thereby creating social change themselves (Dalrymple & Burke, 1995; Hick, 2002; Lundy, 2004; Mullaly, 2007).  8  Empowerment is a strategy by which to work toward social change within a progressive framework. While the term radical social work has been expanded to include feminist, anti-racist and other anti-oppressive theorizing (Fook, 1993; Langan & Lee, 1989a, 1989b), its use has decreased and instead the term anti-oppressive practice has become more common (C. Campbell, 2003d). Anti-oppressive practice incorporates social justice and empowerment values and goals into its framework as well as an understanding of oppression and issues of power (Dominelli, 2002c). In addition, it seeks to integrate individual and structural social work practices in a complementary fashion in its goal of social change (C. Campbell, 2003d; Dominelli, 2002b). Dalrymple and Burke state that, in addition to these points, an antioppressive framework acknowledges the need for: personal as well as structural knowledge; knowledge of oneself as well as of groups different from self; information on how to address issues of oppression in both individual and systemic contexts; research; and action for social change (1995, p. 18). At variance with the 1990s theorizing of the intersections of oppressions in social work is the much earlier (1970s) development of structural social work theory in Canada (Moreau, 1979; Moreau & Leonard, 1989). In addition to its earlier development, structural theory includes a more overt discussion of ideology and its connections to social relations as produced and reproduced by societal structures than do most descriptions of anti-oppressive theory (Moreau, 1979; Mullaly, 2007). Structural social work also has similarities with other anti-oppressive and social justice theories. A structural perspective also seeks to incorporate a broad understanding of the intersections of oppression into its framework (Carniol, 1992; Moreau, 1979; Moreau & Leonard, 1989; Mullaly, 2007). Like anti-oppressive practice,  9  structural social work seeks to address inequality at individual, cultural and structural levels (Mullaly, 2002, 2007) and it is informed by a variety of theoretical approaches such as Marxism, feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, critical and postmodern perspectives (Hick & Murray, 2009; Murray & Hick, 2010). As structural social work theory is the focus of this research, it will be examined in more detail later in this chapter. There has been some recent debate on choosing a term or framework around which to unify social work (C. Campbell, 2003a, 2003c; Tester, 2003a, 2003b). While it is useful to have common language in order to communicate, agreement on an umbrella term is unlikely, and the search for such a term may actually be divisive rather than unifying. None of the concepts just described adequately sum up a progressive approach to social change. Social justice describes what social work is working toward; anti-oppressive depicts what the profession is battling against; structural locates the struggle against oppression and for social justice in the heart of societal structures; and empowerment expresses the centrality of individual and group agency or power in the struggle for social change. Each term is necessary, but none is sufficient in describing progressive social work. Yet understanding the nuances inherent in each concept is important in understanding social justice, and in social workers communicating with and understanding each other. In this writing the various terms are used interchangeably at times to distinguish a progressive theoretical and practice framework from one that focuses on assisting individuals and families to change. However, the interchangeable use of the terms in no way suggests that they are synonymous; instead the intention is to acknowledge the differences while situating the perspectives as being on the same team and working toward similar goals. Other writers have adopted this perspective (Baines, 2007c, 2007d).  10  Concerns with Anti-Oppressive and Anti-Discriminatory Discussions There are two potential problems in theorizing about the intersections of oppressions: one is the difficulty in maintaining a deep level of understanding regarding each particular oppression, and the second is that individual oppressions can become lost in the integration. Baines (2003) identifies concerns around the lack of depth in understanding oppression with her research participants and their simplistic understandings of class and gender. The participants discussed issues of class as though it was a monolithic entity centering on the issue of poverty, suggesting that the way to address poverty (and thus issues of class) was for those in poverty to obtain middle-class employment (Baines, 2000, 2003). This is a far cry from the economic analyses upon which radical social work was founded. Baines suggests that working in a large, fast-paced bureaucracy with increased standardization of tasks contributes to social workers being less able to understand the complexities of class and gender (2003). However, there is also the suggestion that a surface-level focus on antioppressive and anti-discriminatory social work frameworks have sterilized theoretical analyses to the point of eliminating an understanding of the structures that are the foundations of oppression. While “the rhetoric of anti-oppressive practice presents a politically correct code word” it may hide the reality that “these approaches have become coopted into mainstream practices that reinforce the current status quo of focusing on the ‘other’ as opposed to truly challenging the power of the dominant and/or majority group” (Yee, 2005, p. 91). Featherstone (2005) articulates the second concern, that individual oppressions can become lost in the integration process, when she describes how in the late 1990s feminist theory in social work was becoming less visible: 11  To conclude, by the year 2000, it was hard to find any explicit adherents to feminist social work although some issues such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence that had been promoted by feminists had been placed on a wider agenda, if often in ways that did not acknowledge their gendered dimensions. (Featherstone, 2005, p. 210) She suggests that feminist thought “had become incorporated into and to some extent subsumed within a broader anti-discriminatory project” (Featherstone p. 208). Structural analyses are also often lost in anti-racist theorizing: “the bulk of the theories embodied in the field of race relations focuses on descriptions of black communities and their inherent pathologies” (Dominelli, 1997, p. 14). Nelson and McPherson (2003) describe how the incorporation of race into social work practice has taken various forms. These rely on cultural awareness and sensitivity, which do not result in progressive practice if the structural analysis is missing (Nelson & McPherson, 2003). In addition, although identity is important in understanding oppression, using identity to exclude people (a process of othering) distracts social workers from the real issues of racism inherent in structural conditions (Dominelli, 2002b; Yee, 2005). The lack of depth and the disappearance of individual oppressions as problems with theorizing about the intersection of oppressions do occur; however, not theorizing about the intersections is equally problematic. When individual oppressions are analyzed independently of each other, the ways in which the interactions between them exacerbate the oppression, become invisible. “The separation of class from race and gender resulted in understandings of both class and gender and, … to a lesser extent, of race that were stripped of political and analytical content” (Baines, 2003, p. 61). Yet there are examples of theorizing about the intersection of oppressions that is complex, where depth does exist, and where individual oppressions do not disappear (see for example: Dei, 2005; hooks, 1984; Kline, 1991; McMullin, 2004; Ng, 1991, 2005; Nyland, 12  2006; Stasiulus, 2005; Vorst, 1991; Zawilski & Levine-Rasky, 2005). Therefore, it is possible. It is as if it is necessary to alternate between zooming in and zooming out on the picture of oppressions. The zoomed out perspective presents a more accurate big picture of the intersections, but does not permit a detailed view of any particular piece. Close-up views of sexism, racism, capitalism, heterosexism, ageism and ableism in turn provide the detail and depth not seen in the big picture. Moving back and forth between these perspectives is what allows for a more accurate understanding of the complex interactions that take place, without losing the context of structural conditions.  Postmodernism and Poststructuralism Discussions of postmodernism and poststructuralism in the context of social theory and social work theory have added another dimension to ways that social workers view the world, social problems and professional practice. There are both differences and overlaps between the two terms (Huyssen, 1990). One distinction made by Huyssen is “that poststructuralism is primarily a discourse of and about modernism” and structures (1990, p. 259), and as such it is more closely aligned with modernism than postmodernism, although he continues the discussion by acknowledging that this distinction is itself simplistic (Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000). Yet writers such as Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard, described at times as poststructuralist, are then also described as postmodernist or their ideas are incorporated into discussions of postmodernism (Agger, 2006; Harvey, 1989). One of the dynamics brought to the discussion by poststructuralism is a focus on discourse, with Foucault’s work being central in this context (L. Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002). “Discourse analytical approaches take as their starting point the claim … that our access to reality is always through language. With language, we create representations of reality that  13  are never mere reflections of a pre-existing reality but contribute to constructing reality” (L. Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002, p. 8-9). While language is central to discourse, discourse is more than just language (Chambon, 1999; Mullaly, 2007). “More than ways of naming, discourses are systems of thought and systematic ways of carving out reality” (Chambon, 1999, p. 57). Phillips and Jorgensen (2002) propose a broad definition for discourse: “there is no clear consensus as to what discourses are…. Let us … propos[e] the preliminary definition of discourse as a particular way of talking about and understanding the world (or an aspect of the world)” (p. 1) in order “to create a unified system of meaning” (p. 27). Discussions of Foucault’s work on discourse suggest that knowledge is created and maintained through discourse (Mullaly, 2007; L. Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002). Although there is often a dominant discourse, there are always multiple discourses underway simultaneously and these can either complement or compete with one another. The dominant discourse typically perpetuates the status quo, although Foucault argued that discourse is not just negative but also holds the potential for resisting and opposing the status quo (Mullaly, 2007; L. Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002). Gavey (1997) argues that individuals are able to choose how to position themselves in the context of discourse and that they can challenge the dominant discourse. Discussions of discourse are relevant to social work practice where social workers rely on language throughout all areas of their work from writing reports and case notes to articulating policies and research problems, suggesting there is scope for workers to either reproduce or resist dominant discourses through their use of language (Mullaly, 2007; Rossiter, 1996). Agger suggests that postmodernism is in some ways more encompassing than poststructuralism and a focus on discourse:  14  It is useful to disentangle the web … composing what people usually call postmodernism into three themes or varieties: postmodern architecture, art, and design, … ; postmodern literary and cultural theory, sometimes represented by the activity called deconstruction … ; and postmodern social theory which relies on the other two varieties of postmodernism for historical antecedents and intellectual influences but is primarily concerned with analyzing society using tools afforded by the postmodern critique of society and existing social theory. (Agger, 2006, p. 35) It is the focus on postmodernism as a social theory as described by Agger that is of interest here. The terms poststructuralism and postmodernism are often used interchangeably to refer to a position which challenges modernism’s claim to universal and essentialist truths in the context of social theory (Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000). The term postmodern is used in this chapter and in the context of structural social work. It is intended to be inclusive of poststructuralism, although it is acknowledged that the descriptions given here of postmodernism, poststructuralism and the potential connections between them is not uncontested. As with the earlier discussion of various terms for progressive social work, it is not intended to imply that the terms are synonymous, but rather that they incorporate complementary perspectives which question modernity’s universal truths and grand narratives and acknowledge diversity, polyvocality and multiple ways of perceiving the world (Agger, 2006; Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000; David Harvey, 1989; Mullaly, 2007). Although postmodernism’s valuing of diversity and difference corresponds with social work’s move to better understand the intersection of oppressions, postmodernism has also been criticised for valuing diversity to the point of erasing modernist’s grand narratives of structural oppression (Agger, 2006; Brotman & Pollack, 1997; Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000; Mullaly, 2007). Brotman and Pollack state that the focus on diverse perspectives and voices negate such narratives as feminism’s critique of patriarchy. This could also be said of the potential to negate the narratives of radical social work regarding capitalism as well as anti-racist critiques of colonialism and imperialism. Brotman and Pollack argue that one 15  potential outcome is that societal injustice cannot exist in a context where every voice speaks the truth and there is no overarching way of perceiving social problems; thus it perpetuates the status quo rather than supporting a goal of social change. Critiques of both modernism and postmodernism suggest that truth is not just a result of discourse (as with postmodernism), nor is truth an overarching essentialist grand narrative that explains all social relations (as with modernism) (Smith, 1999). The concerns with postmodernism are not ignored by others, who argue instead that there are diverse understandings of postmodernism (Agger, 2006; Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000; Mullaly, 2007). Mullaly (2007) states that there are a variety of “versions of postmodernism ranging from a nihilistic and individualistic form on one end of the continuum to a critical postmodernism on the other end” (2007, xvi). Agger (2006) states that universal truths espoused by modernism have not solved society’s problems: crime continues; homelessness has increased; the economy swings wildly; inequality, racism and the gap between the rich and the poor have all worsened. Capitalism has not been the panacea purported by modernity, nor has Marx’s vision of socialism come to pass. Instead it is suggested that postmodernism is one stage of modernism, and that postmodernism’s inclusion of diversity, polyvocality and multiple truths contains within it the seeds for change, much as Marx suggested that capitalism contains within it the seeds of socialism (Agger, 2006; David Harvey, 1989). Rossiter (1996) adds that postmodernism’s articulation of social construction through discourse offers social work an understanding of people as both producers of culture as well as being affected by it (p. 31). In this sense these writers are aligning postmodernism with critical theory.  16  Some feminist postmodernists and feminist postmodern social workers have also made this connection and suggested ways in which postmodernism advances feminist and social work goals and activities (Fawcett & Featherstone, 2000; Rossiter, 2000). Rossiter states that postmodernism has challenged social work’s modernist knowledge base as well as creating “a crisis of identity” (2000, p. 24), both of which open up opportunities for positive changes in social work. She states that postmodernism advances social work’s analyses of power beyond “good/bad binaries” which itself opens “up new space for understanding and celebrating difference” (2000, p. 35). Yet she also incorporates critical analyses: “the necessity for a post-Marxist political project requires uniting postmodern feminism with political goals” (Rossiter, 2000, p. 35).  Critical Social Theory The previous connections of postmodernism to critical social theory lead the chapter to this next discussion. Critical social theory is an important component of discussions of social justice or progressive social work theories for two reasons. First of all, theorizing about social justice and injustice is inevitably linked to the history of critical social theory, and in many cases flows out of critical social theory, at least in part. Second, social work is demonstrating a renewed interest in critical theory and many social justice theorists are moving toward a discussion of critical social work theory as a framework for social work practice which acknowledges the theoretical context of structural analysis while incorporating broad anti-discriminatory analyses (Fook, 2002; Hick, Fook, & Pozzuto, 2005; Hick & Pozzuto, 2005; Ife, 1997; Pease & Fook, 1999). Delaney states: “The roots of critical theory are directly in the creation of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt and a number of social thinkers who promoted the idealism  17  of Karl Marx” (Delaney, 2005, p. 231). Although the Frankfurt school was created for the purpose of exploring and developing Marxist theory, from the beginning “the critical theorists drew upon a variety of intellectual currents” (p. 23) such as Kant, Hegel, German idealism, Nietzsche, and others including, later on, Freudian psychoanalysis as a potential explanation for the connections between the individual and society (Held, 1980). From the inception of the school to a current description of critical theory, a common thread of the approach is its value of interdisciplinarity (Agger, 2006; Held, 1980). Critical theory has never been static. “Critical theory, it should be emphasized, does not form a unity; it does not mean the same thing to all its adherents” (Held, 1980, p. 14). Held states that there are two branches of critical theory, one which flows out of the social research institute founded in Frankfurt and the second from the work of Habermas. A third branch in critical social theory has come out of the cultural studies approach that is connected to the Birmingham School at the University of Birmingham (Agger, 2006). The underpinning of critical theory is Marx’s description of political economy and critique of capitalism combined with an understanding that social relations are dialectical (Held, 1980), although contemporary Frankfurt School theorists add a more multidimensional approach (Delaney, 2005). Agger (2006) describes critical theory as a cluster of theories with seven defining features. The first feature, and most central component of critical social theory, is an opposition to positivism. Positivism is based on Comte’s desire to create a social science that is patterned after natural sciences’ empirical search for laws that describe how the world does, and will always, work. Agger suggests that in the social sciences this search for laws that exist outside of historical conditions would result in freezing “the present into  18  ontological ice, portraying such historical patterns as capitalism, racism, sexism, and the domination of nature as inevitable and necessary” (2006, p. 6). Yet the rejection of positivism is not a rejection of rational thought, empirical research or even objectivity. According to Agger, “Marx was a social analyst who addressed the world objectively and critically” (2006, p. 6). Held writes about the Frankfurt School critical theorists: “It is also an error to imply that they pursued these issues without regard for empirical research. They have contributed extensively to empirical inquiry” (1980, p. 25). However, empirical inquiry is seen as only one of many methods of research that should all be employed in understanding social conditions. The various forms of research employed all need to be grounded in a theoretical framework: “But empirical work, Horkheimer emphasized, is not a substitute for theoretical analysis. For concepts like society, culture and class, indispensable to all inquiry[,] cannot be simply transcribed into empirical terms. They require theoretical elucidation and appraisal” (Held, 1980, p. 34). Empirical research is useful, but is not the end to which all knowledge must be subjected. A researcher can engage in empirical research while understanding that the results are subject to historical, economic and social contexts. Agger’s (2006) remaining features of critical social theories flow out of the first. The second feature is that oppression exists in society both in the past and present, but that social change is possible and desired in order to create a future where oppression does not exist. There is a connection here to the rejection of positivism. Purported neutrality is seen to evade the reality that social relations are mediated through science and technology (Delaney, 2005) and thus research ‘neutrality’ that does not acknowledge its assumptions serves to  19  perpetuate the status quo. Critical theory seeks to identify oppression, challenge the status quo, and facilitate societal change. The third feature of critical theory is that oppression is structural. “That is, people’s everyday lives are affected by larger social institutions such as politics, economics, culture, discourse, gender, and race” (Agger, 2006, p. 4). This point incorporates Marx’s theory of political economy as well as addressing one of the criticisms of traditional Marxism, which is the lack of inclusion of other forms of oppression. The fourth feature of critical theory holds that oppression and domination continue, in part, because the structures which perpetuate these also create a false consciousness in the people who are oppressed by use of “ideology (Marx), reification (Georg Lukacs), hegemony (Antonio Gramsci), one-dimensional thinking (Marcuse) and the metaphysic of presence (Derrida)” (Agger, 2006, p. 5). The fifth feature states that society can change, and that change begins with people in their everyday lives. The sixth feature is that structural change is based in Marx’s interpretation of the dialectic where structures shape people at the same time that people shape structures: “Following Marx in this sense, CST [critical social theory] conceptualizes the bridge between structure and agency as dialectical” (Agger, 2006, p. 5). History does not end in an unchanging utopia, but rather people make and remake history through their interactions with each other and societal structures, while these same structures in turn continue to shape people. This allows people to be the agents of their own ongoing change. The final feature of critical theory for Agger is that there is an inherent responsibility of all people to be aware of their actions, to not perpetuate oppression and to contribute to movement toward liberation.  20  The features of critical social theory provide a logical starting point for the development of social justice practice theories, such as those found in social work. Features of critical social theory pertinent to these theories include an interest in social change, the starting point of people’s daily lives and the centrality of the agency-structure dialectic (Agger, 2006). Agger states that the cluster of theories he includes in critical social theory include feminism, postmodernism and cultural studies, while others include structural and radical social work theories (Hick, 2005; Ife, 1997) as well as anti-oppressive practice (Healy, 2005). It is important to note that there is no consensus in the literature on the clustering of critical theories, and Agger acknowledges the diversity of interpretations of each of these theories, including, for example, postmodernism with its strand of absolute relativism that is considered to be in opposition to critical thought (Agger, 2006; Mullaly, 2007). In addition there is a recent articulation of the theoretical framework described as critical social work which has critical theory as its foundation and includes the various social justice perspectives and theories discussed here, including structural social work (Fook, 2002; Healy, 2005; Hick, 2005; Ife, 1997). Mullaly (2007) states clearly that critical social theory is the foundation for his articulation of structural social work theory.  Structural Social Work Theory Structural social work theory was developed as a practice theory in the 1970s at the Carleton University School of Social Work (Moreau & Leonard, 1989). This section outlines the components of structural social work theory. The connections and disjunctures between theory and practice are discussed in the next chapter. Structural social work in its inception sought to incorporate feminist and Marxist analyses while incorporating an understanding of all types of oppression without prioritizing one over the other (Moreau with Leonard, 1989).  21  “Rather, it is an analysis which places alongside each other the divisions of class, gender, race, age, ability/disability and sexuality as the most significant social relations of advanced patriarchal capitalism” (Moreau with Leonard, 1989, p. 1). In the context of feminist and Marxist analyses, structural social work also sought to explain the role of the dominant societal ideology in the development and perpetuation of oppression (Moreau, 1979; Moreau with Leonard, 1989). An additional key element of structural social work theory is its adherence to the dialectic in both analysis and practice. “The concept of dialectic is an essential component of structural social work theory” (Mullaly, 2007, p. 237). Mullaly suggests that a dialectical analysis is present in a variety of forms in a structural perspective and it challenges false dichotomies or dualisms in many different ways. For example, the welfare state has both social care and social control functions, it contains both liberating and oppressive features, and it represents both the fruits of the struggles of oppressed people and a mechanism used by the dominant group to ‘cool out’ the powerless. (Mullaly, 2007, p. 238) The dialectic between individuals and social structures is particularly relevant to this research, and Mullaly states that “such structures consist of boundaries, barriers, expectations, regulations, and so on” (2007, p. 252). Although structural social work has been critiqued as being focused on the role of structures over the potential of individual agency (Rossiter, 1996), this critique does not reflect the actual stance of the theory (Mullaly, 2007; Murray & Hick, 2010). Structural social work theory instead focuses on the interaction between agency and structures. “The individual is both the creator of the social world and is created by the social world” (Mullaly, 2007, p. 237). It is the dialectic between agency and structures that offers up the opportunity for structural change and opens up the  22  potential for social work practice that is truly emancipatory (Mullaly, 2007; Murray & Hick, 2010). Mullaly (2007) begins his description of structural social work theory by discussing the notions of paradigms and ideologies, describing paradigm as a commonly accepted way of viewing the world. This is consistent with Agger’s (2006) fourth feature of critical social theory, which posits that structures are maintained in part by the creation of a false consciousness through methods such as ideologies and, in this case, described by Mullaly and others as paradigms. Paradigms exist in many realms, but in the context of structural social work, the focus is on social, economic and political ideologies that exist at a societal level. Although there are often several competing paradigms at any given time and place, there is typically one that is dominant or more commonly accepted. Mullaly adopts four main paradigms (neo-conservative, liberal/neo-liberal, social democratic and Marxist) each of which are composed of an ideology leading to a particular understanding of social problems, an ideal welfare state, and thus a prescription for social work activities that fit with the paradigm. Mullaly (2007) states that there has been a relatively recent shift from a liberal paradigm of an institutionalized welfare state to a neoconservative or neo-liberal paradigm that includes a retrenchment of the welfare state. This perspective fits with Galper’s (1975) statement that conservative and liberal ideologies, although different, both support a welfare state only to the extent that it does not interfere with the functioning of capitalism. Liberalism typically supports slightly more of a welfare state than conservatism (Galper, 1975), but the recent shift from a liberal institutionalized welfare state to neo-liberal ideology in the context of globalization is a shift to less of a  23  welfare state with increasing overlaps in ideological perspectives between neo-liberal and neo-conservative thought (Mullaly, 2007). An understanding of ideology and political paradigms is important for several reasons, one of which is because “ideology largely determines the nature and form of social work practice” (Mullaly, 2007, 41). The discussion of ideology is based in a Marxist perspective that “ideology is, in Marx’s words, ‘a material force’, a significant arena of political struggle within which social workers practice” (Moreau with Leonard, 1989, p. 1). Mullaly (2007) examines each of the four main paradigms in light of the ethical framework found in the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), Code of Ethics (CASW, 1994). One of the main arguments of the theory is that the dominant societal ideology will direct the understanding of social problems and implementation of social work activities, and that without an understanding of the underlying ideology and knowledge of alternative paradigms and ideologies, social work will maintain the status quo rather than identify other directions to address social problems. In order to identify alternatives, Mullaly (2007) utilizes professional social work values as articulated in the Code of Ethics as a framework for determining which perspective of social problems and the welfare state best addresses social issues. Mullaly suggests that it is the social democratic paradigm that has the best match, concurring with radical social work perspectives that a socialist democratic perspective is best suited to addressing the root causes of social problems (Fook, 1993; Galper, 1975, 1980). However, structural social work theory does not stop here, as did the original version of radical social work. Radical social work analyses of political, social and economic ideologies were void of any discussion of other issues of oppression. Structural social work  24  theory incorporates understandings of feminism, anti-racism and the broader antidiscriminatory analyses that also address issues of oppression based on sexual orientation, age and ability (Moreau, 1979; Moreau & Leonard, 1989; Mullaly, 2007). In addition, Mullaly places structural social work theory in the context of critical social theory, stating that this serves as the foundation for the articulation of the specific dynamics of structural social work theory and practice. The integration of critical theory, the socialist paradigm, and anti-discriminatory analyses in the context of a shift to globalization as the new face of capitalism means that the old socialist basis of radical social work is “reconstructed to accommodate these critiques” (Mullaly, 2007, xvii). As well, Mullaly’s newest description of structural social work theory incorporates postmodernism. He argues that constructing modernism and postmodernism as binary opposites is inaccurate and that connecting critical theoretical perspectives (including structural social work) with postmodern analyses augments critical thought. Thus structural social work integrates the benefits of both modernism and postmodernism such that the theory “retain[s] ideals of social justice, emancipation, and equality in a way that respects difference, diversity and inclusion” (Mullaly, 2007, p. 209). This is comparable to the work of many critical and feminist postmodern theorists. Finally, Mullaly (2007) expands radical social work’s examination of capitalism by incorporating Harvey’s (1990) analysis of postmodern conditions of current day society. Fawcett and Featherstone (2000) distinguish postmodernism as a set of “theoretical positions” and postmodernity as referring “to a broad set of changes which characterize contemporary Western societies” (p. 8), which is the understanding that is used here. Harvey describes postmodernity as one stage of modernity that continues to be based in and  25  understood through the social relations of capitalism. However, he argues that the visible socalled shift from modernity to postmodernity is based on a shift within capitalism. Modernity is premised on the belief in a logical, rational, scientific and orderly search for an essentialist truth, and capitalism is presumed to provide the foundation for a stable society. However, underneath the surface of this picture Harvey argues that capitalism is actually composed of boiling tensions, such as those between labour and capital. The FordistKeynsian economy of modernity saw a truce between labour, capital and the state, which gave the appearance of stability but in reality, was precarious. According to Harvey, (1990) this truce collapsed in the post-1973 era after the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement and, at this point in time, capitalism shifted from a Fordist-Keynesian economy with the illusion of balance and stability to an economy based on flexible accumulation and globalization with its accompanying chaos. Social relations shifted from the appearance of a stable truce between labour, capital and the state and its visible icon of a strong middle class, to the weakening of the power of labour and unions and the resulting increase in the gap between the wealthy and those living in poverty. While some suggest that market economies have moved from capitalism into something new, Harvey argues that the new relations continue to be directed by capitalism, albeit in its new cloak of flexible accumulation. Social work practice today takes place in the context of postmodernity which still includes capitalism but with greater depths of inequality and in a newer form that is more unstable, fast-paced and chaotic, making structural issues more difficult to challenge than before (Agger, 2004; Harvey, 1990; Mullaly, 2007).  26  Situating Structural Social Work Theory Critical social work, anti-oppressive and structural social work theories are arguably three of the most common frameworks currently in use in Canadian social work that seek to understand the complexities of social justice and the intersections of oppression. Structural social work theory is less well known outside of Canada. Commonalities across the frameworks are: the inclusion of all forms of oppression and the intersections of oppressions; and an understanding of oppression at individual, cultural and structural levels and the interactions between these. The incorporation of postmodern theorizing also occurs in the context of these frameworks, although this is still often contested. Structural social work theory situates itself as having critical social theory as its theoretical foundation and thus as a type of critical social work theory. In addition, Mullaly states that addressing oppression is “the primary focus of structural social work” (2007, p. 252) and that an anti-oppressive approach to practice is a major element in practicing structural social work theory (p. 249). Thus anti-oppressive practice is identified as a practice approach that is a component of structural social work theory, and potentially of other theories. There are many who would disagree with this contextualization; for example, Campbell (2003a, 2003b) has argued that anti-oppressive theory or practice should be seen as an umbrella framework for social work’s social justice theories. As discussed earlier, debating which term should be used to describe or incorporate all progressive social work theories leads to divisions, rather than to cooperative understandings that all perspectives, while distinctive, are on the same team and working toward similar goals, although at times walking down different, though related, paths. Thus, while this chapter uses structural social work theory as a starting point, it also acknowledges that works described in other terms  27  (such as feminist postmodernist, critical social work, or anti-oppressive) are partners on similar roads with social justice as a primary goal.  28  CHAPTER TWO. A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON THEORYPRACTICE INTEGRATION Difficulties in bringing together social work theory and practice have been described in the literature by many different authors (R. Bailey & Lee, 1982; Lewis, 2003; Mullaly, 2007; Payne, 2005; Pilalis, 1986; Reynolds, 1942, 1963; Secker, 1993; Sheldon, 1978). These issues have been ongoing through the history of social work and are raised in the context of a broad picture of all social work theories (Healy, 2005; Pilalis, 1986; Reynolds, 1963; Secker, 1993), as well as issues specific to particular theories, such as structural and critical theories (Hick & Murray, 2009; Moreau & Leonard, 1989; Mullaly, 2007; Murray & Hick, 2010; Payne, 2005; Peters, 2010). These authors suggest that some of the challenges in connecting theory with practice are common to social work theories in general, however, it is expected that some of the challenges are specific to structural social work theory or the broader critical social work theories. Although the focus of this chapter is to explore the literature on the integration of structural social work theory into practice, with a primary interest in research literature, the limited literature on this topic means that research, and non-research, based literature from related fields is also included where relevant. Given the compatibility of structural, critical and anti-oppressive social work theories (articulated in the previous chapter), literature discussing the integration of these theories into social work practice is also included in the discussion. One of the commonalities of social justice theories is the current concern with the intersection of oppressions. Therefore research studies which examine only one thread (such as the use of feminist theory or anti-racist theory in practice) are not the focus, however such studies are included where they add to the discussion, as is some of the literature on  29  social work theory-practice integration in general. It is also important to note that critical, structural and anti-oppressive theoretical frameworks are in wide use across a variety of social work fields, for example: young offenders and street involved youth (Haines, 2002; Romilly, 2003); group work (Dominelli, 2002b; McNicoll, 2001, 2003; Sullivan, Mesbur, Lang, Goodman, & Mitchell, 2003); mental health (D. Bailey, 2002; Beaulieu, 2003; Morley, 2003); aging (Neysmith, 1997, 1999; O'Connor, 1999, 2003); child welfare (H. C. Brown, 2002; Dumbrill, 2003; Pinkerton, 2002; Spratt & Houston, 1999); community development (Dominelli, 2002b; Lane, 1999); and disabilities (Sapey, 2002; Stainton, 2002) among others (Adams, Dominelli, & Payne, 2002; Shera, 2003). In addition, as social work is both a professional and academic discipline, most social work research includes implications for practice as a part of the discussion, even if theory-practice integration is not specifically the point of the study. To include all such research would be unwieldy and potentially tangential to the discussion. Thus the focus is on research studies, and related theoretical literature, which examine or discuss the integration of social justice theories with practice, although literature that explores questions related to theory-to-practice (or knowledge and practice) in general is also included where relevant. It is suggested that the gap between theory and practice is a common challenge in the social work discipline (Bogo & Vayda, 1998; Harre Hindmarsh, 1992; Hearn, 1982; Lewis, 2003; Pilalis, 1986). Students often experience difficulties in integrating various theories with practice when they begin fieldwork (Bogo & Vayda, 1998; Vayda & Bogo, 1991) and social work programs struggle with how to assist students in making this link (Boisen & Syers, 2004; Reay, 1986). Two related dilemmas that are common in discussions of theory and practice integration are, first, the debate over the usefulness of abstract theory in practice  30  settings (Lee, 1982; Mullaly, 2007; G. Smith, 1971) and, second, the debate over eclecticism versus choosing a theoretical approach (Mullaly, 2007; Payne, 2005; Poulter, 2005; Robbins, Chatterjee, & Canda, 1999); both of which are issues in disciplines other than social work as well (Harre Hindmarsh, 1992). In the first debate, the division is typically between academics and direct practice social workers where the former focus on theory and the latter believe that social work experience should guide one’s practice (Lee, 1982; G. Smith, 1971). Since human nature is to look for patterns which then guide future actions, it is argued that all practitioners create and utilize their own practice theories, whether they are aware of it or not (Mullaly, 2007; Reay, 1986). However, such experiential theories, if they are not subjected to conscious analysis and research, can result in a practice that is chaotic and contradictory at the least and possibly damaging to one’s clients (Loewenberg, 1984; Mullaly, 2007; Reay, 1986; Robbins et al., 1999). The second debate is over the use of one theory versus the use of aspects of many theories. An eclectic approach to theory is also problematic as mixing and matching bits of various theories is often due to a superficial understanding of theory and can result in the potential misuse of theory in a practice setting (Mullaly, 2007; Payne, 2005; Robbins et al., 1999). Payne suggests that it is not a simple choice between one theory or eclecticism, rather “a cautious, coordinated and planned approach should help to overcome the problems with eclecticism” (2005, p. 32). In this perspective, social workers are expected to thoughtfully consider the benefits of different approaches, whether or not they work together effectively without debasing the theories, and which best meet client needs (Payne, 2005). An  31  understanding of the factors involved in integrating structural theory and practice should be useful in developing a more effective integration of the two (Peters, 2010). One criticism of discussions of theory and practice is that the terms themselves are often vague and undefined with both being used in a variety of ways in the social work discipline (Hearn, 1982; Pilalis, 1986). Theories specific to the discipline of social work may be about: (a) what the discipline entails and why, (b) what the practice of social work looks like, or (c) theories of human behaviour used by social workers in guiding their practice (Pilalis, 1986; Timms & Timms, 1977). It is the latter definition that is relevant to this discussion with a focus on the use of structural social work theory specifically or critical social work theories in general in social work practice. Pilalis (1986) defines practice in three ways: “general professional purpose or intention; an ethical deed; and technical act” (p. 87). For the context of this paper all three definitions are included in the term social work practice as all are components of social workers’ activities. Most important is the argument that theory and practice are not simply two distinct terms that exist independently; instead it is argued that the two are so closely intertwined that the ongoing interaction of the two result in a relationship that is continuously changing (Hearn, 1982; Pilalis, 1986; Reay, 1986). It is the process of this interaction in the context of structural and critical social work theories that is explored in the literature review presented here.  Framing the Literature Review One difficulty in making sense of the literature is that often the concerns about theory-practice integration are discussed, one at a time, in isolation from other potential concerns. Yet a review of the literature suggests that there are a number of different  32  concerns, all of which may hinder (or facilitate) theory-practice integration. It is clear from the literature that theory-practice integration takes place in a variety of contexts and is affected by a number of factors that can be organized into groupings for clarity. In order to make sense of the varied nature of the literature on this topic I have utilized Maxwell’s (p. 47) idea of a concept map to develop a visual picture of the literature on theory-practice integration (Maxwell, 2005; Peters, 2010). In the process of reviewing the literature and thinking about the idea of a concept map I realized that theory-practice integration is often assumed rather than explicated. I decided that a visual explanation of what I wanted to do was to tease theory and practice apart and explore what came between them. The elements between theory and practice would, conceivably, act as both barriers to and facilitators of theory-practice integration. In doing this and in organizing the literature into groupings, I visualized these categories in abstract ways as spaces between theory and practice. The concept of spaces reflected what I found in the literature, which was a number of contexts, each containing a variety of factors, in which theory-practice integration occurred and which affected the activity of integration. The literature review explores the spaces between abstract structural theory and the point of social work practice where social work practitioners put social justice transformation into practice. The convergence of theory and practice in social justice contexts is referred to as praxis. Factors within these spaces may be either barriers or supports to the implementation of structural social work theory by practitioners. The concept map provides a descriptive framework that organizes the literature on structural social work theory-practice integration, allowing for an understanding of the big picture and the integrated ways in which these factors affect practice (Peters, 2010).  33  Reviewing the Literature Relevant to the Spaces Between Theory and Practice Educational space Social work education is a common starting point in the literature for examining theory-practice integration and related issues (Bogo & Vayda, 1998; Boisen & Syers, 2004; C. Campbell, 1999, 2002, 2003d; Lam, 2004; Marchant, 1986; Rossiter, 1995, 2001; Vayda & Bogo, 1991; Walden & Brown, 1985). Some suggest that it is not just about bringing theory and practice together, but that it is a three-way process and that “anti-oppressive practice must connect education, practice and theory” (Massaquoi, 2007). The educational space is a logical entry point since social work education has the responsibility and mandate to teach social work theories and to guide students in utilizing those theories in practice. Several factors within the educational space have been identified in the literature as being relevant to the theory-practice integration discussion. The first factor is that of social work field placements. Boisen & Syers (2004) in their literature review suggest that theory-practice integration has often been left to field placements and thus to field instructors at the agencies in which students are placed. There are several potential problems with this, one of which is that given current cuts to funding combined with increasing workloads, many field instructors simply do not have the time necessary to assist practicum students with their learning process (Boisen & Syers, 2004). One study found that field instructors did not agree that theory was an important component of their teaching responsibilities in the placement or that theory was even relevant to practice (Barbour, 1984). Another study indicated that in spite of the importance of the role of agency-based field instructors, the turnover rate of people willing to supervise practicum students was problematic (Bogo & Power, 1992). Yet a study of social work students shows 34  that the role field agency supervisors play is crucial in student development of a practice approach and the integration of theory into their practice (Secker, 1993). A second factor is the use of seminars alongside field placements. Authors suggest various models for use in field seminars or other courses to train students in methods to reflect on their practice as well as to incorporate theory into practice. These models often involve the use of self-directed learning via reflective thought in combination with practice scenarios and discussions with peers and the field seminar educator (Bogo & Vayda, 1998; Boisen & Syers, 2004; Lam, 2004; Noble, 2001; Reay, 1986). Studies suggest that such reflective models are useful in improving theory-practice integration for students (Boisen & Syers, 2004; Lam, 2004; Noble, 2001). Although reflective models often do not concentrate on any particular theory (Boisen & Syers, 2004; Lam, 2004) there are also critical reflection models (Noble, 2001). Structural and critical social work theories are discussed in the literature in the context of social work field education and field seminars, although much of this literature is theoretical rather than research-based. Social justice theorists state that field instruction must explore and address issues of power and should create a sense of community for field instructors and students in order for students to integrate these concepts into their practice (Bertrand Finch, Bacon, Klassen, & Wrase, 2003). However, these authors do not ground these sentiments in research. One example of a structural approach within a field placement is the creation of an organization in Nova Scotia with the goal of promoting Gay/Straight Alliances in schools (Brown, Richard & Wichman, 2010). The organization was developed by a social work student in her field placement and with the support of her faculty supervisor for the express purpose of challenging homophobia and heterosexism. While these authors  35  demonstrate that structural social work theory is applicable to practice in the context of this example, they do not offer research into the process of theory-practice integration. Razack (1999) used student surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of field placement seminars. She found that it was important that field placements, seminars, and field instructors address antiracism and diversity issues as an important component of student learning regarding antioppression principles (Razack, 1999). A third factor in the educational category specific to the integration of critical social work theories into practice focuses on pedagogy and teaching methods when delivering theory or practice courses. One issue may be that educators in social work programs teach the theories at an abstract level, but do not make the connection to skills and practice. Within this context Rossiter discusses her personal intellectual development and challenges as she worked to change her skills course from a traditional theoretical foundation to one that incorporates a critical theoretical foundation (Rossiter, 1995). Razack suggests that faculty members and social work departments have crucial roles in moving the social work profession toward a critical approach to practice and theory in the educational context (Razack, 2002). For example, research found that students valued discussions of oppression in the context of field seminars, but that only 35% of students surveyed had this opportunity (Razack, 2002). Teaching styles and processes are also important in the delivery of courses and connections between theory and practice (Secker, 1993). Several articles suggest that to effectively teach empowerment and anti-oppressive practices to students, the pedagogical processes must be consistent with the theoretical perspective being taught, and these authors also suggest strategies educators can use in this process (C. Campbell, 1999, 2003b, 2003d;  36  Wehbi, 2003; Zapf et al., 2003). Educators in the field of group work are encouraged to utilize group work processes in teaching students how to link personal problems with public issues (Berman-Rossi & Kelly, 2001). Students learn how to analyze the connections between private and public issues via group work in the classroom, while also developing group work skills that incorporate critical theoretical analyses that they can utilize in their practice. Pedagogy is not only important in educating students about anti-oppressive practices in general, but also when educating students about specific issues of discrimination. One study found that teaching processes are important in educating students on heterosexism (Woodford & Bella, 2003). Dore’s (1994) theoretical work suggests that a feminist pedagogy is important in social work courses, especially where the majority of students are female. She suggests that the use of feminist pedagogy builds community, develops leadership abilities, and teaches empowerment by empowering students. As well, the use of empowerment improves students’ ability to learn, including their ability to understand and take in new theoretical perspectives (Dore, 1994). Pedagogical factors are also important in teaching anti-racism and multicultural social work as illustrated by his review of a teaching video clip of a therapist’s interaction with an African-American client (Nyland, 2006). While the literature reviewed in the context of the educational category is useful, there is only limited research connecting these topics to theory-practice integration, especially pertaining to critical and structural theories. The relevance of teaching methods and pedagogy to connecting critical or anti-oppressive theories to practice was demonstrated by literature based in educators’ personal experiences, theoretical writings and at times research studies. However, these were not specific to structural social work theory. Studies  37  into the teaching effectiveness of educators and the link to theory-practice integration are lacking. Studies on the role of field placements and related field seminars is primarily about general theory-practice integration and is not specific to structural or critical theories, with the exception of Razack’s (1999, 2000) work. In addition, Noble (2001) and Razack (2002) both suggest that, in spite of the important role of field placements in social work education, academic literature examining the effectiveness of field placements and seminars is limited. Figure 1. Educational Space  Structural social work theory  à  Educational space à  Social work practice  Some factors in the educational space: • The field placement (including field instructor and agency factors) • The field seminar and use of theory-practice integration models • Educator preferences of theories and own stage of learning • Pedagogical practices • Availability of literature which operationalizes theory for practice • Teaching to perceived or actual needs of agencies • Institutional context  There are many factors at play in the educational space as identified here, and there are likely others. (See Figure 1 for an overview of the educational space factors). The larger institutional context may or may not be supportive of diversity, which has repercussions for both social work practice and education (N. MacDonald et al., 2003). As well, there may be an interaction with another space between theory and practice, the theoretical space (to be discussed later); practice theories may not adequately operationalize critical theoretical concepts, in which case it is difficult to teach what has not yet been articulated in enough depth in the literature. Razack suggests this is accurate for anti-racist and anti-oppressive literature (2002, p. 78). Another barrier may be that social work instructors are teaching to 38  the perceived (or actual) needs of the agencies in which students are completing field placements and to which they will be applying for work. This leads to the second space between theory and practice, which is the organizational space. Organizational space The second category relevant to theory-practice integration is the organizational space. Agencies and organizations in which social work students complete field placements and social work practitioners work, are also locations which are potential barriers or supports to structural social work practice. The organizational space overlaps with educational space as organizations are the locations of field placements for students. Field instructors who do not see theory-practice integration as a part of their student supervision work (Bogo & Power, 1992), who are too busy and do not have the time to discuss theory with the student (Boisen & Syers, 2004), or who do not encourage the use of theory (Barbour, 1984) are issues for students. These issues may also be relevant for supervisors of new graduates and even mature social workers who are seeking support to apply theory to practice in their work. Researchers in Hong Kong interviewed social workers on their use of theory in the context of the agency within which they worked (Chan & Chan, 2004). They found that workers chose to utilize theories actively encouraged by the agency. The agencies, in turn, chose theories that could be learned quickly by new workers. “The agency has the tendency to select those theories which are practical and easy to learn and follow.… Other theories … are not popular because the practitioners need more time to learn them” (Chan & Chan, 2004, p. 552). Social workers commented on the time pressure in their positions, stating “the time and space for integrating theory and practice were inadequate, thus rendering their practice  39  very pragmatic” (p. 552). This study examined theory-practice integration in general and was not specific to critical theories. The organizational space can be problematic for the use of critical social work principles in particular (Harre Hindmarsh, 1992). In his study into what supports or undermines social workers in applying the structural perspective, Moreau found that agencies have an important role to play (Moreau & Leonard, 1989). Some agencies were found to have regulations that contributed to client difficulties and worked against a structural approach to client casework. Another issue with organizations and the use of structural or critical theories is that critical social work theories are relatively new (Fook, 2003). It is possible that many social work professionals are not familiar with critical social work theories, and thus, may not able to assist students or new practitioners with putting critical concepts into practice. In her theoretical discussion of group work McNicoll (2003) identifies two barriers to social justice group work that are applicable to the organizational context. The first is that the medical model, as a common approach within social service and health care organizations, typically does not have the time, or interest, required for effectively implementing social justice activities (McNicoll, 2003). The second is that isolation from other social justice-focused professionals or peers can be problematic for social justice practice in the field of group work, particularly when the work is difficult and there is no one else to go to for support (McNicoll, 2001, 2003). However, the organizational space can also at times be supportive of a structural approach. In Moreau’s research, two of the most important factors in supporting the use of the structural approach to practice fall into the organizational space: (a) support from management for the approach; and (b) support from peers in the agency or the larger  40  community (Moreau with Leonard, 1989). Although their work is not research-based, the following authors give examples from their social work practice of the ways in which organizations can support a structural approach. Colleagues and peers who understand a structural perspective can support each other in their work (J. E. MacDonald & Friars, 2010). Managers or organization funders who come from a structural perspective can create organizations with mandates that are structural in nature and which therefore intrinsically support and encourage structural practice (M. Brown, Richard, & Wichman, 2010; Burrill & Peters, 2010; Thomas Bernard & Marsman, 2010). The physical space within an office can also open doors to and set the stage for a structural approach (Carniol & Del Valle, 2010). Mullaly (2007) and Carniol (2005) both discuss the relevance of organizations to structural practice. Their theoretical discussions suggest that some grassroots or alternative agencies (such as women’s organizations) often openly operate from a social justice stance while others, such as centralized government bureaucracies, may be more likely to operate from a traditional paradigm (Carniol, 2005; Mullaly, 2007). Child welfare, for example, has been identified as a bureaucratic field of work in which it can be more difficult to engage in social justice-focused practices according to this theoretical discussion (Strega, 2007). Barnoff and Coleman’s (2007) study explored practices of women working in feminist organizations in Toronto. The participants articulated that the support they received from the agency for their anti-oppressive work was very important in order for them to able to successfully utilize the approach (Barnoff & Coleman, 2007). George and Marlow (2005) presented a case study of an Indian grassroots and structural organization developed to work with the Dalit people considered by the Hindu caste system to be untouchable; this status “results in their extreme social exclusion” (George & Marlow, 2005, p. 10). In addition to  41  offering support services to the Dalit people, the organization also engages in consciousnessraising and has successfully challenged government decisions to deny Dalit people access to education (P. George & Marlowe, 2005). The organization demonstrated the successful use of a structural approach (P. George & Marlowe, 2005). Politics and ideology are also important in theory-practice integration as governments typically fund social service organizations. When the ideology of the government in power shifts, the new ideology is often passed on to social service organizations via funding contracts (Razack, 2002). In a neo-liberal climate, non-governmental organizations may be pressured to provide services and programs within a traditional paradigm instead of a critical paradigm (Razack, 2002). A research study in Ontario documented that government funding cuts there have resulted in feminist organizations putting their efforts into agency survival thus reducing their time and effectiveness in anti-oppressive activities (Barnoff, George, & Coleman, 2006). Others also point out that, based on their practice work, funding cuts can create problems for structural practice (Carniol & Del Valle, 2010; Wright, Sayani, Zammit & George, 2010). The literature reviewed here in the organizational context contains a mix of research studies, theoretical discussions and examples from the authors’ experiences. The only research that specifically explores social workers’ integration of structural theory into practice is that of Moreau (1989, 1993). While the Chan and Chan (2004) study explored theory-practice integration it was not specific to structural or critical theories. The other studies are indirectly relevant to the topic, but they do not actively focus on the process of theory-practice integration (Barnoff & Coleman, 2007; Barnoff et al., 2006; P. George & Marlowe, 2005; Razack, 2002). It is clear that the context of organizations influences the use  42  of theory in practice, but that research in this area is limited, particularly as it relates to structural social work theory. See Figure 2 for a summary of factors in the organizational space. Figure 2. Organizational Space  Structural social work theory  à  Organizational space  à  Social work practice  Some factors in the organizational space: • Colleagues’ and supervisor’s choice of theories • Time pressure • Availability of agency supervisors • Direction from boards of directors, agency mandates or regulatory bodies • Direction specified in funding contracts  Personal space A third space between theory and practice contains factors related to the personal context of social workers (see Figure 3). Some of the research relevant to this space comes out of critical psychology, suggesting a gap in the social work literature, and again much of this work is theoretical in nature rather than based in research. One of the contributions from critical psychologists is the suggestion that practitioners need to begin with their own personal growth in order to work effectively from a social justice perspective (Pitner & Sakamoto, 2005; Prilleltensky & Nelson, 2002). Pitner and Sakamoto (2005) state that critical consciousness by the practitioner (a knowledge of one’s own biases, stereotypes and issues of power) is necessary for multicultural practice as practitioners will not be able to effectively address issues of power and oppression in their work with clients if they have not addressed these in their own lives. Speaking from their own experiences social work authors  43  agree, suggesting that without this structural self-awareness social workers risk simply perpetuating power imbalances with clients (Feehan, Boettcher, & Quinn, 2010). Practitioner anxiety about their own abilities or personal development may induce a cognitive and affective response which has the unintended effect of entrenching stereotypes as well as one’s status and power: “when service providers have a negative self-image, they feel disempowered. In such situations, they may be more likely to use their professional role to gain a sense of power.” (Pitner & Sakamoto, 2005, p. 688). Therefore, practitioners’ levels of critical consciousness and self-awareness of power and bias will influence their ability to work effectively from a critical theoretical foundation. There are a number of social work authors who discuss the importance of personal growth and development to structural and anti-oppressive practice, based on their own experiences in practice. Structural and critical theory social workers also describe how personal growth, critical consciousness and self-awareness are all important attributes in order practice structurally (M. Brown et al., 2010; Feehan et al., 2010; Kumsa, 2007; Lysack, 2010). Olivier’s description of his structural social work practice includes a description of how he grapples with whether or not his work is truly structural (Olivier, 2010). Ideology is also a component of structural social work theory and Carniol and Del Valle (2010) indicate that a personal awareness of ideologies is important to structural practice. Self-awareness in the context of a structural perspective does not occur without time and effort and it is important that social workers do the personal work on this in order to practice effectively (M. Brown et al., 2010; Feehan et al., 2010). It is also important for structural workers to be aware of what does and does not work in anti-oppressive work, and for Baines this involves learning on the job as well as learning from others (Baines, 2007a).  44  Other factors are also important in the personal space. Fook et al. (2000) conducted research to study the journey of social work students through their degree and first 3 years of practice examining how professional social workers develop practice skills over time (Fook et al., 1994, 2000). These authors drew on and added to the Dreyfus and Dreyfus model (1986 in Fook et al., 2000), which identifies how practice skills are acquired over time and in a series of steps (Fook et al., 2000). The authors suggest that the use of theory for a novice is initially rule-based, culminating in a more flexible, creative and self-reflective use of theory for practitioners who develop expertise in the field over time. Although it was a small component of the study, the primary focus of this research was not on theory-practice integration. In addition, the study was examining the development of social work skills in a broad sense and did not focus on structural or critical theoretical skills. Chan & Chan (2004) found that social workers engaged in micro-level practice tended to be interested in developing practical knowledge, more so than theoretical knowledge, as they believed it would be more directly useful to their practice. In addition, these workers used not only theory to guide their practice but also relied on their values, beliefs and past experiences (p. 550). One participant suggested that personal values should be involved in choosing a theory for practice and several others suggested “that the selection and application of theories should match personal character and experience” (Chan & Chan, 2004, p. 551). Social workers, after learning about a variety of theories, will eventually seek out a theory that fits with their worldview and their clinical interests (Barbour, 1984; Chan & Chan, 2004). Moreau (1989) identifies the congruence of structural theory with one’s personal worldview as one of the top three factors in the utilization of structural theory in practice. His study demonstrates that social workers practicing from the structural approach  45  have an understanding of the connections between the personal and political in their own lives, and use appropriate levels of self-disclosure in sharing these experiences with clients (Moreau with Leonard, 1989). Students and practitioners have also stated that the use of a theoretical framework seems cold, unfeeling and inconsistent with the value of caring about clients (Barbour, 1984; Loewenberg, 1984; G. Smith, 1971), thus leading to a reluctance to use theory. Another factor relevant to practitioners at a personal level is an incomplete understanding of structural or critical theory and its application to practice, according to other social work research (Baines, 2000, 2003). Baines (2000) illustrated “that while critical social workers demonstrate a fairly good understanding of critical social work theory, in practice they employ an unstable potpourri of liberal, descriptive, and critical, analytic notions and interventive techniques” (p. 10). Likewise, Razack suggests that social work students have a difficult time integrating structural components into anti-discriminatory practice understandings, indicating that students are afraid of voicing these connections in case they get it wrong (2002, p. 20). McNicoll suggests that the residual approach to social work which permeates the group work field not only opposes the use of social justice approaches, but also results in social workers unconsciously accepting this perspective such that a residual, rather than critical, approach becomes a habit for workers (2001, 2003). At this point there is, again, interaction between the various spaces. For example, a lack of use of structural or critical theories may be connected to a workers’ incomplete knowledge of theory, to the educational process which did not explicate the theory-practice connection thoroughly enough, or to pressure from an agency or funder. Figure 3 provides an overview of the personal space.  46  Figure 3. Personal Space  Structural social work theory  à  Personal space  à  Social work practice  Some factors in the personal space: • Personal growth, self-awareness and level of critical consciousness • Fit of theory with personal worldview and values • Seeking knowledge to meet one’s work place needs • Understanding how the personal is political in one’s own life • Having a working knowledge of theory in practice and connections to skills • Confidence to practice one’s skills and articulate theory • Tendency to adopt an approach promoted by the agency where one works  Much of the literature discussing personal factors in the use of critical theories in practice comes out of authors’ personal experiences, reflection and examples. There is limited literature that is based in research and less yet that speaks specifically to the utilization of critical theories. Only Moreau (1989, 1993) is interested in structural social work theory. The lack of research in this area suggests the need for more study. Client space The fourth category of factors affecting theory-practice integration is that of clients. The application of theory to the practice setting with a client (or clients) is not a one-way process. Social workers indicate that they will tailor or adapt their theories and skills as appropriate with various groups of people, and in one study social work students indicated a reluctance to use theory to guide practice as that was seen to be disrespectful of the uniqueness of each client (Barbour, 1984). Chan and Chan suggest that theories are adapted based on age-appropriate interventions as well as an understanding that clients’ views of  47  what they need are important to integrate into the practice setting (2004). “The clients’ needs and feedback acted as a guide for the social workers” (Chan & Chan, 2004, p. 553). In addition, an empowerment approach suggests that it is important to work with clients in making decisions that will affect them as they are the experts on their own lives (Feehan et al., 2010; Payne, 2005). Client empowerment is a key component of structural social work (Moreau, 1990; Mullaly, 2007), as well as other critical theoretical practices (Prilleltensky & Nelson, 2002), and thus clients should have direct and ongoing involvement in the development of their work with a social worker, even if that results in clients rejecting a critical approach. Critical approaches are not for everyone. While mainstream mental health services have often not been helpful for disadvantaged client groups, we recognize that some clients might be better served by more mainstream approaches. All clients should have a range of services and supports from which to choose. (Prilliltensky & Nelson, 2002, p. 91) Others suggest, based on their social work experiences, that it is unlikely that clients will oppose being empowered and treated with equality, as are consistent with a structural perspective, but that they may disagree with a structural analysis of their issues (Feehan et al., 2010; Peters, 2010). It is important to give clients time to think about attempts to reframe issues within a structural framework and allow them the space to make up their own minds on the analysis (Carniol & Del Valle, 2010; Feehan et al., 2010). On the other hand, clients can also be conducive to encouraging a critical or collective approach to practice. For example, in McNicoll’s work, a group of Vietnamese people rejected attempts to individualize their experiences and instead sought out a collective approach to the group work process (2001, 2003). One example of client-directed practice at a governance level is the Youth Project, which seeks to create a safe and supportive place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer, or intersex youth (M. Brown et al., 48  2010). In this organization there are two equal boards of directors, one of which is a youth board where all directors must be under the age of 26 and must “represent the diversity of experiences and identities surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity” (M. Brown et al. 2010, p. 162). In this organization, the youth who participate in the organization also direct its activities, which is consistent with a structural perspective and the value of empowerment. In his second major study of structural social work as utilized in practice, Moreau (1993) found that the use of social analysis in direct practice with clients was determined in part by the stage of the intervention, the receptiveness of the client to such an analysis and the gender and age of clients. However, Moreau also found that characteristics of the clients were not as important in the implementation of structural theory as were other factors, such as those found in the organizational and personal spaces (Moreau, 1993). Although factors in the client space are important (see Figure 4 for a summary), research into how clients affect the use of theory in practice is extremely limited. Chan and Chan (2004) explore this question, although they do not look at the use of critical theories in particular. Moreau’s work (1989, 1993) is the only research exploring the effects of clients on the use of structural theory in practice, suggesting the need for more research in this area.  49  Figure 4. Client Space  Structural social work theory  à  Client space  à  Social work practice  Some factors in the client space: • Client’s presenting issues, needs, interests and feedback • Client’s age, culture, gender, ability, sexual orientation, etc. • A fit with client’s worldviews and values • Use of empowerment strategies means client directs the process • Receptiveness of client to a particular intervention, analysis or theory  Theoretical space It is the theoretical space in particular that allows for an analysis of distinct theories and the potential barriers or supports to theory-practice integration that will be unique for each theory. Pilalis (1986) states: “it is overly simplistic to talk about the relationship between theory and practice in social work without identifying which type of theory and of practice one is referring to at that particular time” (p. 89). The theoretical space offers more scope for a closer scrutiny of structural social work theory itself. It is commonly understood that there are various levels of theory that are interconnected (Martindale, 1988; Turner, 1991). Theories range from grand or meta-theory, which examines constructs in an abstract and broad form, through mid-range, to those which are specific and concrete, with various levels in between (Martindale, 1988; Turner, 1991). Critical social work theories are more specific and are an attempt to operationalize broader critical theory at a social work practice level, or to link the more abstract grand level of critical theory to the concrete level of everyday practice. The desire to link broader theory with everyday practice realities fits with Agger’s fifth feature of critical theory, which is that  50  social change as proposed by critical theory begins in the context of people’s everyday lives and activities (Agger, 1998, 2006). One of the barriers that may be considered a possible concern with any theory is that a theory may be inadequate in its attempts to operationalize concepts from the grand or mid-range levels to the practice level (Pilalis, 1986). This concern may be relevant to implementing critical social work theories, including structural social work theory, although there is no research that asks this specific question and it is difficult to study. The only studies that directly investigate the integration of structural social work theory into practice by social workers is the work by Moreau (Moreau et al., 1993; Moreau & Leonard, 1989). Moreau (1989) surveyed structural social workers on their use of the theory in practice and asked participants what they saw as the benefits and limitations of the theory. The benefits of the structural approach include its broad and holistic analysis, the importance of social change at a structural level, and the focus on reducing client blame and empowering clients to actively participate in solutions to their problems. Limitations of the approach included agency and client resistance (which fit with previous spaces of theory-practice integration). Additional limitations were specific to the theory: a lack of emphasis on the need to assist clients in making personal changes, and a lack of connection and interaction between theory and skills. In discussing these findings, Moreau suggested that the focus on teaching structural theory during the early years of this approach at Carleton University School of Social Work resulted in the neglect of teaching skills and how to use traditional skills in a structural way. While it makes sense that theory develops slowly and over time, the results of Moreau’s research suggest that the theory developed at a faster pace than did the application of the theory to practice.  51  Other criticisms of various critical social work theories have been advanced over the years, although most of these critiques are grounded in theoretical discussions and do not come out of research studies. One analysis of radical social work suggested that radical theory can create false divisions between various working class populations by being selective about which group is deserving of support (Means, 1979). Means suggested that instead of dividing the working class, radical social workers should seek to mediate conflict and unify the population. Another criticism was that radical social work risked neglecting clients by desiring everyone to become empowered to solve their own problems, when some were damaged to the extent that this was not be possible (Clarke, 1976). Structural social work has also been accused of having a vague and abstract goal of social change with few to no guidelines on how to achieve such change, including the lack of practice methods (Cabrera, 2009). Structural theory is also criticized for addressing structural causes of individual issues, but ignoring individual responsibility and power (Finn & Jacobson, 2003; Manful & Manful, 2010; Rossiter, 1996). Rossiter (1996) suggests that: If the individual/social dichotomy is left untouched, we inevitably end up with social work theories that either focus on the individual, and hold the oppressed responsible for their victimization, or focus on the social, giving social work practitioners no space to think about complex, agentic people. (p. 26) Mullaly, on the other hand, states that structural theory’s foundation in critical theory means the dialectic between structures and people is a key component which acknowledges the importance of both structure and agency and the interactions between them (Mullaly, 2007; Mullaly & Keating, 1991). Yet perhaps the criticism is that this dialectic as a component of the theory has not been adequately translated into practice; however, there is no research exploring this question.  52  It is important to note that there are social workers who can give compelling examples of how they are actively using structural theory in practice in ways that challenge the above critiques. Feehan et al. (2010) describe carefully and respectfully balancing the dialectic of agency and structures in their work with victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Others, using examples from their practice, describe ways in which they actively translate theory into practice activities and skills daily in their work with individuals, families and groups (Baines, 2007a; Burrill & Peters, 2010; Hemingway, Johnson, & Roland, 2010; Schwartz & O'Brien, 2010). In a recent edited book, authors of various chapters identify the utilization of numerous anti-oppressive practice skills (Baines, 2007b). The criticism of the difficulties in actually achieving social change are also challenged by some who can articulate ways in which they have challenged the system and succeeded with policy, legislative and community shifts (Bernard & Marsman, 2010; Burrill & Peters, 2010; George & Marlowe, 2005; Reza & Ahmmed, 2009). In summary, the theoretical space contains factors that can either support or challenge the implementation of theory in practice. (See Figure 5 for a summary of the factors in this space.) While the literature offers thoughtful academic critiques of structural social work theory, as well as examples from practitioners that challenge those critiques, there is very little research that actually explores how structural social workers understand and engage with the theory.  53  Figure 5. Theoretical Space  Structural social work theory  à  Theoretical space  à  Social work practice  Some factors in the theoretical space: • Fit of level of theory with the level of practice (micro, mezzo or macro) • Fit of theory with the issue being addressed • Operationalization of abstract constructs into practice approaches • The need to balance change in societal structures with change in individuals • Acknowledgment of the dialectic relationship between people and structures  Other spaces and comments There is one final category in the spaces between theory and practice, called other, which acknowledges that there may be other categories and factors not noted here. In spite of the heavy emphasis in the literature on the problems with theory-practice integration, it is important to note that there are practitioners who are successfully integrating theory into their practice. In order to challenge the barriers to integration, it is important to identify sites and practices that facilitate the integration; however, there is little research that actively seeks out information on what renders theory-practice integration successful. One final point about the figures presented in this chapter is that the arrows are actually bi-directional (see Figure 6). Just as theory influences practice through the spaces in between, so does practice influence the development and refinement of theory through the same spaces. However, the purpose of this paper is to examine the movement from theory through the spaces to its integration into practice, so the arrows in the preceding figures (Figures 1 through 5) focus on that direction only.  54  Figure 6. The Spaces Between Theory and Practice  Spaces of potential barriers/supports to implementing social work theories  Theory  Critical social work theories & specifically structural social work theory  à ß  • • • • • •  Educational space Organizational space Practitioner space Client space Theoretical space Other spaces  Practice  à ß  Social work practice  Summation of spaces between structural social work theory and practice All of the spaces or categories have factors that may work as both barriers or supports to the integration of structural theory into social work practice. The educational and organizational spaces are ones in which the largest amount of research has been completed. The practitioner space describes research from the early days of teaching structural social work theory (Moreau & Leonard, 1989), as well as more recent research on the use of critical theories in general (Baines, 2000). There is less research relevant to the role of clients in the use of theory (Chan & Chan, 2004; Moreau et al., 1993; Moreau & Leonard, 1989), although it is logical that clients will influence the choice of interventions by social workers. Moreau’s research (1993) suggests that clients do not have as much effect on the use of structural theory in practice as do factors found in some of the other categories. The theoretical space is extremely limited in terms of research on how the articulation of structural theory affects structural social work practice. It is important to note that much of the research and literature described earlier in this chapter is about the integration of theories generally into practice, or about social justice 55  focused theories (such as critical social work or feminist theories), rather than about structural social work theory specifically. While this information is still relevant to the discussion, the dearth of research on structural social work theory in the context of practice suggests that this is a timely research topic. In addition, research and discussions of theorypractice integration tend to focus on what the problems are, rather than exploring what elements contribute to successful integration; thus the focus on what works is also a gap in the current research and literature.  Potential Complexities of the Spaces Spatial overlap Although the spaces are described separately, I suggest that it is impossible for a person to operate in only one space at a time with no regard for the factors in other spaces. While examples of the overlap of spaces have been given throughout the discussion so far, one last example will be identified here. If a new social work student is followed through her or his degree and into the workforce, paying attention to all of the contexts of which he or she is a part, it is possible to see all of the spaces and factors playing out in that person’s life and work. The person is influenced in her or his choice of theories and how she or he links them to practice by the educational institution and what was taught. The worker is influenced by personal values and is likely to look for theories that fit with her or his worldview. Personal factors in choice of theories may even be determined in part by this student having missed the class in which a particular theory was reviewed. After graduating and entering the workforce, the use of theories will be influenced by the agency mandate as well as by the person’s supervisor and peers to whom she or he turns with practice questions.  56  Clients will also influence the person’s work. In addition, the development of the theory itself and the individual’s perception of its applicability to her or his work are relevant. Although it is logical that there is interplay between these spaces and factors, the research presented here typically examined only one or a few of these elements at a time. Thus, there is no research on how or if these, or other, elements work together in an interactive way to affect social workers’ use of theory in practice, including structural social work theory. Agency-structure dialectic Marx’s agency-structure dialectic is an important component of critical social theory (David Harvey, 2004; Ollman, 2004), and therefore should be a factor in the integration of theory and social work practice. Individuals are not only affected by larger contexts (as in the example in the previous paragraph), they can influence and change these contexts. It is logical that a practitioner who becomes a manager may choose to develop an organization that supports or discourages the use of structural social work theory, which is an interaction of personal and organizational spaces. Thus, the interaction between structures and the agency of people is important in the development of factors as both barriers and supports to the theory-into-practice process. Individuals influence the development of structures at organizational, governmental and societal levels, which in turn influence the use of theories in practice settings. For example, a person involved in developing government policy to govern the funding of non-profit programs can create a policy that allows only work that addresses individual behaviour change, or conversely, can create a broad policy that allows for a program to address structural factors inherent in a social issue. People influence policy  57  development, and the policy influences the creation of programs and guides the direction of the social work practitioners’ practice (Wharf & McKenzie, 2004). It makes sense that the dialectic would complicate the categories or spaces between theory and practice. The dialectic is not static and not essentialist; it does not happen in one particular way for all factors in a space or for all spaces. Each individual is unique and each organization (composed of unique individuals) is also distinctive. In the same way, each space has the potential, in large part due to the agency-structure dialectic, to be different from other spaces. While critical theory may identify trends or generalizations, these are complicated by the agency-structure dialectic. For example, Mullaly (2007) and Carniol (2005) state that, in general, grassroots organizations such as women’s centres are more social justice-focused and thus more open to critical and structural approaches. Yet, one women’s centre in northern British Columbia, located in a conservative community and developed under the guidance of a conservative board of directors, emerged with a mandate and programs that are business-focused with a primarily neo-liberal agenda (Anonymous, Personal Communication, 2006). This demonstrates how the agency-structure dialectic can take different turns with different actors in varying locations. The repercussions of agency-structure dialectic were not a component of the research literature discussed here. The research tended to focus on either how practitioners used theory or on the external factors which influenced them, but not on an interplay of these elements. An examination of the role of the agency-structure dialectic in the context of theory-practice integration is nonexistent in the research literature.  58  A modern/postmodern view which incorporates general trends with diversity Although Mullaly (2006) and Carniol’s (2005) comments may still be accurate in general, or for most women’s centres, the understanding of the agency-structure dialectic as a component of each of the spaces acknowledges that there is room for great diversity alongside general truisms. Thus, the spaces where structural social work practice is encouraged and supported may have some similarities that can be identified, but they will not necessarily be the same in all circumstances. In addition, the agency-structure dialectic is ongoing, which ensures that all spaces are constantly changing. This is consistent with critical postmodern approaches that acknowledge both individual diversity as well as general structures (Ife, 1997; Mullaly, 2007). The larger contexts of ideology and oppression Both Mullaly and Lundy discuss the importance of a set of beliefs or values, described as ideologies, to social work practice (Lundy, 2004; Mullaly, 2002, 2007). This is consistent with Agger’s (2006) description of critical theory, which states that oppression is maintained by creating a false consciousness in a number of ways, including the use of ideology. Lundy states that all theories or models have an inherent ideology that may or may not be stated overtly. Mullaly states that “ideology largely determines the nature and form of social work practice” (Mullaly, 2007, 41). Ideology not only determines the way practice is carried out, but it underpins the process of translating theory into practice, and so is relevant in all the spaces where factors of the theory-into-practice processes are located. Thus, ideology is not only a component of structural social work’s theoretical analysis, but structural theory and practice are necessarily located in spaces infused with ideology.  59  Indeed, all theories and practices exist in an ideological context that may support or undermine any number of theories, not just structural social work theory. Although the prevailing ideology may change over time, it is commonly accepted that neo-liberalism is the current ideology dominating thinking and societal structures in Canada today (Lundy, 2004). Structural social work theory takes a decidedly left stand on ideology (Lundy, 2004; Mullaly, 2007). To teach and practice structural social work theory, which compares with a socialist ideology, in a societal context of neo-liberalism creates a larger problem with the translation of theory into practice. The dominant ideology itself currently contributes challenges to the theory-into-practice processes across all five spaces: theoretical, educational, organizational, client and personal (see Figure 7). One example of the direct impact of ideology on the organizational space came after the election of Harper’s Conservative government in 2006 with federal government cuts to organizations engaged in advocacy work in areas such as women’s issues, human rights and immigration (Hughes, 2011). Several grassroots, non-profit organizations (such as women’s centres and disability organizations) were informed that they would not be eligible for funding if they continued to state (in mission statements, etc.) that their organization would engage in advocacy work on behalf of clients. To ensure continued funds, many agencies dropped the word ‘advocacy’ from their official documents (Anonymous, Personal Communication, 2007). Such work either goes underground or disappears, but either way this intervention is significantly weakened. Advocacy is an integral part of structural and critical theories, and thus, this is a clear example of the power of ideology and government to dictate the use of theoretical frameworks and interventions to organizations.  60  Figure 7. Theory-Practice Integration  Critical social work theories and specifically structural social work theory  à ß  • • • • • •  Educational space Organizational space Practitioner space Client’s space Theoretical space Other spaces  ↑ •  ↑ • Ideology Power & oppression  à ß  Social work practice  ↑  * Other factors not visible include spatial overlap between all spaces as well as the ongoing activity of agency-structure dialectic. Hooper (2001) conducted research in the infiltration of the neo-liberal ideology of what he terms enterprise culture into social work settings through public policy. He chose to base his research in community development settings as these settings have traditionally developed out of social movements in a critical theoretical grassroots context as a way of addressing issues of inequality (Hooper, 2001). These are the organizations that have traditionally resisted market approaches to social issues. Hooper used critical discourse analysis to examine the infiltration of enterprise culture through the use of language. The research found that the community development organizations and workers had shifted in their use of language to discourse appropriate to an enterprise culture, although such a shift may have been coerced or strategic. He did not find any practitioners who rejected enterprise-culture discourse. The findings of this study underscore the reality that the larger ideological context in which organizations and practitioners exist does effect change in both the agencies and the social workers (Hooper, 2001). Other studies echo the influence of  61  governments and ideology on organizations (Barnoff et al., 2006; Razack, 2002). A study of social work students’ use of theory as students and then as new practitioners found that popular ideology influenced students’ theoretical understandings of practice situations both early on in their studies as well as in their later work (Fook et al., 1994, 2000). Issues of power and oppression are also key components of structural social work theory (Lundy, 2004; Mullaly, 2002, 2007), as they are in other applications of critical theory (Prilleltensky & Nelson, 2002). Similarly with ideology, it is believed that power and oppression also play out to differing degrees and in different ways in all five spaces between theory and practice. While there is some research on the effects of ideology and issues of power on the ability of organizations and workers to engage in social justice activities (Barnoff et al., 2006; Hooper, 2001; Razack, 2002), the research is limited on the effects of these on structural theory-practice integration. As these are important concepts in structural theory, it suggests that this is a relevant area for investigation.  Literature Gaps and Research Questions The literature exploring the use of theory in practice is based in a combination of research studies, theoretical discussions, and personal experiences. The only two studies that focus explicitly on the use of structural social work theory in practice by social workers are those by Moreau (1989, 1993) from about 20 years ago. Structural social work theory has changed and grown since this time and there are more schools teaching it with more diverse methods of teaching and applying the theory, suggesting that Moreau’s work is likely dated and possibly not as pertinent today. In addition, Moreau’s research focused on the skills, techniques and activities used by structural social workers, rather than inquiring about processes involved in theory-practice integration.  62  The other research that is particularly relevant is that of Fook et al. (1994, 2000) and Chan and Chan (2004). However, there are limitations to these studies as well. The work by Fook et al. focuses on the development of skills more so than theory-practice integration. Chan and Chan focus on theory-practice integration, but their research along with that by Fook et al. are about skills and theory in a general sense, and not structural or critical theories in particular. In addition, studies by both of these research teams have an interest in some, but not all, of the categories and factors described in the literature review. While the studies by Moreau (1989, 1993), Fook et al. (1994, 2000) and Chan and Chan (2004), and some others, ask social workers directly about their experiences in practice, not all do this. Some of the studies reviewed in this chapter are with social work students who are new to the practice field (Boisen & Syers, 2004; Lam, 2004; Noble, 2001; Razack, 2002). Other studies are on the outcomes of structural organizations as a whole rather than with social workers specifically (P. George & Marlowe, 2005), or are with social work student agency-supervisors (Bogo & Power, 1992). Finally, the literature review reveals that there are many factors that can be organized into a number of categories, all of which have an impact on theory-practice integration. However, the majority of the research is piecemeal at best, often studying only one, or a small number of, factors at a time, such as the benefits of a particular field seminar teaching model that improves the use of theory for students in a practicum placement (for example, Boisen & Syers, 2004; Lam, 2004; Noble, 2001). In addition, much of the literature is based in personal experiences and theoretical musings rather than research studies. There is no research that examines or seeks to understand the ways in which all of these categories and factors work together in influencing theory-practice integration for any theoretical focus  63  including critical or structural theories. As well, research on developing the use of theory in practice does not explore questions around agency-structure dialectic, ideology, power or oppression, all of which are components of structural social work theory. In addition to the gaps in the literature, I have a personal interest in the topic. My interest developed out of two areas in my life where I also identified concerns with the integration of structural theory into practice. The first is my own effort to utilize the theory in the context of the various social work positions I have held over the years and the challenges I experienced during this time. The second is my experience teaching structural social work theory to social work students in a way that makes both theoretical and practical sense. My experiences, and my discussions with students and social workers using the theory, suggest that the implementation of the theory at the practice level is fraught with problems that have not yet been explored or even articulated. These experiences led to my interest in developing this study. The purpose of the research, which has come out of gaps in the literature and my personal interest, is to better understand the integration of structural social work theory and practice from the perspective of social workers whose practice is informed by this approach. There are two main objectives of the research. The first is to discover and explore the processes involved in structural theory-practice integration for practicing social workers. The focus is on a holistic understanding of theory-practice integration that explores the complexities of the process rather than studying only one or two factors. The starting point is one of exploring the ways in which theory-practice integration is successful, rather than focusing on the negative (the ways in which the integration of theory into practice is problematic); however, it is expected that the two are related and that both will appear in the  64  data. The second, though related, objective is to understand the ways in which structural social work theory does (and/or does not) work at the operational level, that is, in social work practice, and the barriers and supports to structural practice. Again, the focus is on the ways in which it does and can work, more so than the negative. The research questions are closely connected to the research objectives. How do participants’ experiences offer insights into the processes involved in theory-practice integration? How do social workers think and talk about structural social work theory and the ways in which it informs their practice? What are the processes that support or discourage practice being informed by structural theory, as identified directly by participants or indirectly through their stories of practice?  Conclusion The literature review is an important step in articulating and exploring the factors that affect the integration of structural theory into practice. The figures throughout the chapter visually display the literature review, demonstrating the diverse context of theory-practice integration. The literature indicates that there are various categories of factors that affect the integration of structural theory and practice, including organizational, educational, client, personal and theoretical spaces with the potential for others. Ideology and oppression infuse each of the spaces. The diagram belies the complexity of these categories, which also include interactions or overlaps between the spaces, the ongoing agency-structure dialectic, and a coming together of modern and postmodern thought by understanding general trends while leaving room for diversity. The literature review also highlights the limitations of and gaps in knowledge specific to the topic. Most importantly, the literature review and related diagrams are descriptive and  65  not theoretical or explanatory in nature. Related to this, the existing research typically examines only one or a few factors at a time related to theory-practice integration, with no research that explores a holistic sense of this integration or any understanding of how these categories and factors may work together in their effects on theory-practice integration. The discussion here does not in any way articulate an understanding of how the process of theorypractice integration takes place or the relationships between the spaces. As well, categories have been developed out of the literature and it is unclear as to whether or not they are relevant or complete for practitioners in the field. Lastly, the literature review demonstrates that much of the research on theory-practice integration has focused on the barriers to this process, with little information or research on the ways in which to integrate the two successfully. While the literature review provides a starting point for the development of the study, it leaves a number of questions unanswered.  66  CHAPTER THREE. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN The literature review revealed numerous limitations with the current research on theory-practice integration, particularly for structural social work theory, suggesting this as an important area for study. There are several reasons for an interest specific to structural social work theory. First of all, the theory was developed in Canada in the 1970s and has been a prominent theory in use at several Canadian schools of social work over the last three decades (Mullaly, 1997, 2007). Second, although related to other critical or progressive theories and approaches such as feminism and anti-racism, it has “more potential for integrating various theoretical concepts and political practices because it does not establish hierarchies of oppression but is concerned with all oppressed groups” (Mullaly, 2007, p. xiii). Structural social work theory also supports social practice taking place both “inside … [and] outside the existing social welfare system” (Mullaly, 2007, p. 211). Lastly, Mullaly identifies the importance of the role of the dialectic, ensuring that it “does not get trapped within false dichotomies or binary opposites” (2007, p. xiii). Thus, structural social work theory is a strong practice framework, which has developed within the framework of critical social theory and the Canadian context. Given the strengths of the theory, its relevance to Canadian social work, the criticisms of the gap between structural theory and practice, and the limitations of the research literature to date, this study has the potential to illuminate new and unique information that is relevant to social work practice and education across Canada. Finding a way to bridge the gap between structural social work theory and practice could change the face of social work in Canada and elsewhere. Grounded theory, because of its focus on actions and processes, is a logical starting point in order to identify ways in which participants actively and successfully  67  incorporate structural social work theory into practice. This chapter provides a description of the research methodology as well as details of the study design.  Overview of Methodology Research paradigm/framework Unsurprising perhaps, given the substantive focus of the research, a critical perspective will guide decision-making. It is important for all aspects of the research to be harmonious and connected (Maxwell, 2005), and utilizing a critical theoretical framework as a thread through the substantive topic and research framework will lay the foundation for a consistent focus. This section identifies how the use of a critical theoretical paradigm will guide and inform the development of the research methodologies and data analysis. Other related threads important in the research paradigm include the importance of language and an anti-oppressive perspective. Critical theory identifies links between social issues and societal structures, with the purpose of challenging and eliminating structural oppression (Agger, 2006). Critical theory holds to the belief that change occurs in two directions: that people are shaped by society and structures, but that people also have the agency with which to shape and change social conditions. This is in contradiction to a positivist search for laws that dictate permanent and unchanging social realities (Agger, 1998). Kincheloe and McLaren’s (2005) discussion of the interconnectedness of facts and values parallels Agger’s discussion that there is no objective empirical truth that is outside of history and interpretation: “facts can never be isolated from the domain of values or removed from some form of ideological inscription” (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2005, p. 304). A critical theoretical framework for research acknowledges that the research and results will evolve in the context of current realities and  68  understandings and will be interpreted by a researcher living in these same realities. Thus, while the research will provide a unique and new perspective on the topic, it will be understood in the context of current conditions and a particular analysis. This does not diminish the value of the research and results, but places the research in a position of a larger context, rather than suggesting that it will provide an objective and neutral delivery of facts (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2005). Kincheloe and McLaren (2005) add a discussion of language to their overview of critical theoretical components. They suggest that the use of language, with which to describe and locate objects and events, is itself socially constructed and “mediated by the social relations of capitalist production and consumption” (p. 304). This adds another layer of interpretation to the historical materialist perspective, as language becomes a site for exploring and understanding power imbalances as well as a potential site for challenging dominant views. Discourse analysis has a focus on connecting knowledge to meaning and language (Agger, 1998; Carroll, 2004; Gavey, 1997). Through critical discourse analyses it is understood that the reproductions of oppression at the structural level can be identified through an exploration of language. The use of language is one way in which dominant groups maintain power by ensuring that their construction of reality is the one that is reproduced in conversations and texts, both formal and informal. Again, the Marxist dialectic is important as Gavey (1997) acknowledges that the influence of language as a way to maintain power and privilege is not the only direction in which influence flows. “Individuals are not passive, however. Rather they are active and have ‘choice’ when positioning themselves in relation to various discourses” (Gavey, 1997, p. 54). Thus the use  69  of discourse analysis, used in this thesis as a secondary method, can identify the reproduction of power and oppression, as well as challenges to these. An additional element of the research context is that of anti-oppression. Structural social work theory has at its core an anti-oppressive approach to practice as well as an approach to understanding oppression that links personal issues with structural contexts, which is consistent with critical thought. Overall, women are engaged in social work in higher numbers than men, both as social workers and as clients. In addition, other marginalized groups (such as people of diverse cultural backgrounds and people living in poverty) are more likely to be clients and to face numerous structural barriers in their lives. Given the importance of an anti-oppressive perspective to structural theory, analysis of the research results includes an exploration of privilege and oppression and the ways in which this pertains to participants in the context of theory-practice integration. In summary, the research is grounded by a critical theoretical framework, as described by Agger (2006). Critical theory is the thread that runs through the research design, ensuring that the research is planned and developed in a coherent fashion, where the design “components work harmoniously together” so that the research is “efficient and successful” (Maxwell, 2005, p. 2). Complementary threads throughout the research include an interest in language and an anti-oppressive perspective. Research approaches In addition to being grounded in critical theory and incorporating the threads of language and an anti-oppressive perspective, this study draws upon Charmaz’s (2006) interpretation of grounded theory as its primary research approach, supplemented by ideas related to the use of critical discourse analysis. Charmaz’s constructivist interpretation of  70  grounded theory provides the foundation and context of the research and seeks to understand the processes that inform theory-practice integration. Critical discourse analysis (CDA) suggests a view that incorporates an analysis of ideology in the language used by the participants and in relevant texts. CDA also reminds the researcher of the dialectic of structure and agency and to look for the ways in which power is resisted. These research perspectives are not foreign to each other as both share a critical theoretical perspective that includes an interest in discourse, power and the agency-structure dialectic. Thus, it is not that there are two distinct pieces in the research approach, but rather the methodologies have overlapping perspectives which complement and interact with each other for a unique exploration of the data (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). The following discussion describes grounded theory and CDA separately and acknowledges their differences. However, throughout the research process they will be woven together and utilized in a complementary fashion (O'Connor, 2001). Each methodology or tool will allow a different perspective of the data. The windows of methodology open onto the same scene, but each suggests a slightly different, although overlapping perspective of the view. O’Connor (2001) states: “All lenses will necessarily allow some aspects to be seen while simultaneously hiding others” (p. 153). In relying on both of these perspectives, and grounded in the research paradigm as described above, the research design and analysis will allow for a unique combination of viewpoints of the data in order to best address the research question. The main approach is grounded theory that is expanded with the additional use of critical discourse analysis; these are described in more detail next.  71  Grounded theory as the primary focus of the research approach The overarching approach for the research design and data analysis is that of grounded theory. Grounded theory has a focus on actions and processes, which guides the researcher to inquire about and analyze the activities of participants. This makes it a logical approach to use in the examination of social work practice and the actions participants take in their daily work, including actions to incorporate theory into practice. Grounded theory consists of a set of flexible methods with the purpose of developing new theories grounded in the data. Grounded theory at its inception was reacting to positivist research methodologies that tested existing theories but did not provide scope for developing new ones (Charmaz, 2006; Cooney, 2010; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). It is an abductive approach, which combines inductive and deductive reasoning and relies on the pivotal method of constant comparison. The goal of the analysis is to do more than simply identify a list of themes or patterns found across the data. Through the process of constant comparison, categories develop which are then constantly compared with each other and with the data. As data accumulates and becomes richer and more complex, the researcher deepens the analysis with the inclusion of sub-categories. Rather than stopping here with what is essentially a set of themes, grounded theory researchers then move to identify relationships between sub-categories and categories (in a vertical manner) as well as between categories (in a horizontal manner). It is the focus on actions, processes and relationships between categories that moves the analysis from a set of themes to a grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006). The development of grounded theory came out of work by Glaser and Strauss beginning in the 1960s (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Although their work was innovative in its day and promoted qualitative research during a positivist era, by the 1990s it 72  was critiqued as being too positivist itself, a feature of research to which it had originally been in opposition (Charmaz, 2005, 2006). Glaser and Strauss themselves eventually moved in different directions in their interpretations of grounded theory, and others have added their interpretations to the grounded theory discussion (Cooney, 2010; Kelle, 2007). Thus, when discussing grounded theory it needs to be recognized that there is no single version of grounded theory, and elements of the research process will vary depending on which interpretation is being used. It has recently been suggested that there are three general forms of grounded theory in use today (Hunter, Murphy, Grealish, Casey, & Keady, 2011). The first is classic grounded theory carried on by the work of Glaser and most closely aligned with the original work by Glaser and Strauss (1967). This version has been critiqued as identifying with a positivist perspective (Charmaz, 2006; Cooney, 2010). The second is Straussian grounded theory, carried on by Corbin and Strauss (2008). It is “aimed at making GT more transparent to researchers” by creating a more detailed and structured analysis process (Hunter et al., 2011, p. 6). However, this version has been critiqued as being too structured, complex and potentially rigid (Hunter et al., 2011). Charmaz (2006) has developed her own version, which is the third type of grounded theory, and it encompasses the concept of social construction (Ghezeljeh & Emami, 2009; Hunter et al., 2011). Her version includes a focus on addressing issues of power, between the researcher and participants specifically, and at a societal level generally (Hunter et al., 2011). Research is seen as a collaboration with participants, one where the researcher’s place in the research context is identified and acknowledged.  73  Although grounded theory was not originally developed with critical perspectives in mind, and therefore has been criticized for not recognizing issues of power, Charmaz is clear that this is a weakness of researchers using the approach and not of the approach itself (Charmaz, 2006). Charmaz (2005) states that grounded theory is consistent with a social justice or critical theoretical framework in that the method can be used to explore conditions of injustice as well as suggest future actions for social change. She also suggests that combining grounded theory and social justice “enhances the power of each” (2005, p. 529). The compatibility of Charmaz’s version of grounded theory with a critical theoretical orientation makes it a logical choice for this research. Elements of Charmaz’s grounded theory relevant to this study The first element of grounded theory that is important to note is a focus common to all versions of grounded theory. It is the admonishment that the guidelines for the research process are flexible and should be utilized in a manner that is most effective for each researcher and study (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Charmaz writes, “I emphasize flexible guidelines, not methodological rules, recipes and requirements” (2006, p. 9). Thus, variations in application can differ not only between versions of grounded theory, but also within versions and from study to study. A second element of grounded theory is the iterative process to data generation, analysis and interpretation. Analysis begins with the first interviews and continues throughout the processes of data collection and writing the results. As analysis suggests findings the researcher returns to previously analyzed data for continued analysis regarding the new finding or returns to re-interview participants. Thus, the analysis process goes back and forth, time and again, between the different steps of analysis and between the stages of  74  data collection, analysis and writing, which can blur the lines between the steps of analysis. Grounded theorists describe the methods and steps of analysis as flexible, not as required, and thus the analysis process also morphs as the analysis deepens so as to be relevant to the research in ways that may be unique (Charmaz, 2006). The third element of grounded theory is the emphasis on the use of constant comparative methods as a core tool of the analysis process (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Constant comparison occurs at all stages of data analysis (Charmaz, 2006). Initially, this process is used to compare data and codes with other data and codes. As analysis progresses codes are grouped into categories and categories deepen with the development of sub-categories. Categories are constantly compared with other categories while sub-categories are compared with other sub-categories; both of these happen in a horizontal fashion. In addition, categories are compared with sub-categories in a vertical fashion. It is the use of constant comparative methods that deepens the analysis process and grounds the developing theory in the data. (Charmaz, 2006) The focus on actions and processes during the analysis is the fourth element of grounded theory with particular relevance to this study. The focus on actions begins with the initial coding of data where, rather than summarizing the data, coding should focus on the actions of the participants, although it continues throughout the analysis process. Charmaz writes: I have stressed using gerunds [action verbs] in coding and memo-writing. Adopting gerunds fosters theoretical sensitivity because these words nudge us out of static topics and into enacted processes.… If you can focus on actions, you have ready grist for seeing sequences and making connections.… Thus, I suggest renewed emphasis on actions and processes, not on individuals. (2006, p. 136)  75  It is the focus on actions and processes rather than themes that moves the developing analysis from mere description to that of theoretical framework (Charmaz, 2006). This element in particular makes grounded theory a compelling choice of approach for this study. The combination of inductive and deductive logic is the fifth element of Charmaz’s grounded theory important to this study. Grounded theory developed in reaction to the positivism and deductive focus of the day, and so there is often an assumption that grounded theory is only inductive. However, Strauss states that this was never intended and that the approach was always supposed to incorporate both deductive and inductive logic (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). This may begin with the literature review, which some identify as having the potential to identify the starting point, albeit not the end point, of the research (Charmaz, 2006). In addition, the analysis process inductively identifies codes and categories in the data, then returns to the data to find out if there is any confirmation of the findings. Charmaz interviewed one grounded theory researcher on this interplay between inductive and deductive reasoning and the person said: You’re inductively developing theory and then you’re at least trying out your hunches here continuously…. We can call it an abductive method.… I wouldn’t say we are exactly testing theory, depending what you mean by testing, but we are testing our hunches. (Charmaz, 2006, p. 104) Charmaz does not describe grounded theory as a process to test theory. However, she does describe this interplay between inductive and deductive processes and locates grounded theory as an abductive reasoning process (Charmaz, 2006). The sixth element is the role of the literature review. The role of the literature review in grounded theory is, at times, contested in the literature (Charmaz, 2006). However, there can be a lack of understanding in the significant differences in the role of the literature review between classic and newer interpretations, such as Charmaz’s (2006) version, of  76  grounded theory (Dunne, 2011). Although classic grounded theory typically encourages limited interaction with the literature prior to conducting grounded theory research, Charmaz’s (2006) constructivist grounded theory as well as Corbin and Strauss’ (2008) interpretation both acknowledge that it is not possible for a researcher to approach the data from a perspective of a blank slate. Not only is having prior knowledge a reality, but also many authors argue that a review of the literature is beneficial to the grounded theory process (Charmaz, 2006; Dunne, 2011; Lempert, 2007; Urquhart, 2007). Dunne (2011) describes how conducting a review of the existing literature can strengthen a grounded theory study in many ways including by: “provid[ing] a cogent rationale for a study,” ensuring that the research “has not already been done,” “orient[ing] the researcher,” and assisting the researcher to “become aware of, rather than numb to, possible unhelpful preconceptions” (Dunne, 2011, p. 116). Lempert states: Additionally I argue for on-going researcher familiarity with the literature of the substantive area of study and its applicable theories. Engaging the literature provides the researcher with knowledge of the substantive area in sufficient depth to understand the parameters of the discourse and to enter into the current theoretical conversation. (2007, p. 261) Rather than avoid the literature, Urquhart (2007) suggests that researchers need to ensure self-awareness in their use of the literature to avoid “‘stifl[ing]’ the coding” (p. 351). Corbin and Strauss list several ways in which the literature review can guide the research. In describing the uses of the literature review they state: • • • •  It can provide questions for initial observations and interviews. It can be used to stimulate questions during the analysis. It can suggest areas for theoretical sampling… It can be used to confirm findings, and just the reverse, findings can be used to illustrate where the literature is incorrect, simplistic, or only partially explains a phenomenon. (Corbin & Strauss, 2008, p. 37)  77  All of these are ways in which the literature review has been used in this project. Therefore, it is apparent that a literature review can guide the research design, including the development of research questions, theoretical sampling and interview questions. As such, it also means that the literature review may be reflected in a variety of ways in the findings, as the literature can confirm the findings, and the findings can reject or build on the literature. It is important, however, to ensure that the literature is not imposed on the data, but rather that the findings come out of the data itself (Charmaz, 2006). Steps were taken to ensure that this was the case here, and these are described later in this chapter. The use of the literature review as a starting point in the research design is consistent with Charmaz’s (2006) interpretation of grounded theory. Critical discourse analysis as a thread within the research approach In keeping with the dialectic of critical theory, discourse is a place where power and oppression are demonstrated, but is also a place where power can be challenged, offering a fit with the research paradigm and analysis process in this study (Carroll, 2004; Gavey, 1997; Parker, 2004). There is no single definition of discourse, although Phillips and Jorgensen (2002) suggest that a starting point is to describe it as “a particular way of talking about and understanding the world (or an aspect of the world)” (p. 2) in an attempt “to create a unified system of meaning” (p. 27). In discourse analysis, language is not seen as a neutral reflection of reality, but rather it produces, reproduces and creates meaning, while at the same time offering a space in which to use language to challenge these preconceived meanings (L. Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002). Discourse is more than just verbal or written communication between people. “‘Discourse’ refers to much more than simply printed text but to the full  78  range of practices, structures, and media that saturate our world and ourselves with meaning” (Carroll, 2004, p. 225). In this research, I have utilized critical discourse analysis as a thread throughout the data analysis process, including analysis of transcripts as well as texts identified by participants. Through the use of critical discourse analysis, I have sought to locate and explicate dominant discourses related to incorporating theory into social work practice, and the ways in which these dominant discourses are being challenged. Discourse analysis will add depth to the exploration of theory-practice integration, looking for both the ways in which language and other means of communication can support or challenge theory-practice integration. There are various approaches to discourse analysis. In 1998, Phillips and Ravasi organized these approaches along two continuums, which Phillips and Hardy (2002) organized into the following graph in Figure 8 (Carroll, 2004; N. Phillips & Hardy, 2002). The first dimension, of context and text, describes the possibility of focusing on a microanalysis of a text or texts (at the bottom of the axis) or focusing on the larger context that surrounds the discourse being examined. The second dimension articulates a continuum between examining the construction of social reality (on the left) as one perspective and a critical focus on “dynamics of power, knowledge, and ideology that surround discursive processes” (Phillips & Hardy, 2002, p. 20). These extremes on the continuum are not in conflict with each other; “this is a continuum not a dichotomy” (Phillips & Hardy, 2002, p. 20) and so critical theory and a constructivist approach can be used in concert (Charmaz, 2006). For the purposes of this research, I have utilized a critical discourse analysis  79  approach, as Phillips and Hardy indicate in the upper right portion of Figure 8. Critical discourse analysis is consistent with the critical framework encompassed in grounded theory.  Figure 8. Approaches to Discourse Analysis  Context - Macro Interpretive Structuralism  Critical Discourse Analysis  Constructivist  Critical  Social Linguistic Analysis  Critical Linguistic Analysis  Text - Micro Note. From Discourse Analysis: Investigating Processes of Social Construction, (p. 20), by N. Phillips and C. Hardy, 2002, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Copyright 2002 by SAGE Publications. Reprinted with permission.  Critical discourse analysis brings a unique perspective to the data analysis. One such addition is its focus on language as a way to understand issues of power and ideology. Critical discourse analysis allows for an examination of the ways in which power and ideology are present in the research texts (both interviews and written documents), as well as the ways in which they influence the context surrounding the texts and the participants. One more unique piece that a critical discourse approach brings to the analysis is a view of discourse as not only a demonstration of institutionalized power, but also as a location of resisting or challenging the status quo. For example, practitioners may be trying to work from a progressive structural social work theoretical framework in their practice, but within the confines of traditional organizations that actively discourage this approach. A  80  critical discourse analysis looks for evidence of ways in which the social worker resists and continues with a structural framework, perhaps in a hidden way. Grounded theory and critical discourse analysis work together, adding depth to the research analysis in a complementary process.  Research Design Participant recruitment Participants were recruited during the initial sampling based on the research question. I used a broad approach to recruitment including emails to social work organizations across Canada, switching to snowball and purposeful sampling as recruitment progressed, as is consistent with a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006). Emails with posters and information on the project were sent to schools of social work, faculty members and professional associations, asking for the information to be either forwarded to social workers they knew or included in a newsletter to their members or students (Appendices A and B). Purposeful sampling occurred at the same time by sending emails to specific individuals known to be interested in a structural perspective, inviting them to consider the project or forward the email to others they knew. A few initial participants identified others through a snowball approach. Each of these approaches resulted in additional participants for the study. Only one person was excluded from the study, due to his description of training in structuralism from sociology, not structural social work theory. An overview of the participants is presented in the next chapter. Most of the participants were at a significant distance from the researcher and so, while two were interviewed in person, the remaining were interviewed over the phone. It was not as difficult to conduct interviews by phone as I had initially wondered about. I spent  81  additional time building rapport at the beginning of phone interviews, and once this had been established, the interviews progressed with as much depth and richness as the in-person interviews. The phone interviews may have allowed for an even greater sense of anonymity or confidentiality than face to face interviews for participants. The only limitation of phone interviews was when a participant was distracted by children or other situations. However, these situations were very rare and participants quickly returned to the interview and remained engaged in the discussion. Participant sampling and definitions of theory Participants were practicing social workers, with a BSW and/or MSW, who selfidentified as engaging in social work practice that is informed by a structural perspective. It was important to ensure the potential participants had an adequate understanding of structural social work theory, consistent with the description in chapter one. Yet asking participants to define structural theory up front as a screening tool had the possibility of alienating potential participants for fear that they were not academic enough, and thus potentially losing valuable information. Therefore, to identify relevant participants, there was an initial discussion with potential participants which included questions about what a structural perspective meant to them; this discussion was kept brief so as not to alienate them, while seeking to ensure that their perspective fit the broad parameters of the research definition. This likely resulted in a range of definitions of structural theory that differed slightly at times, but all participants did have common ground in their understandings of a structural perspective that fit with the broad research definition. Exploring the range of understandings of structural theory presented by participants yielded useful data relevant to understanding theory-practice integration.  82  Consistency in definitions was determined by comparing participants’ descriptions of structural social work theory with core concepts as identified in the structural social work literature. According to the literature (Carniol, 2005; Moreau, 1979; Mullaly, 2007) the following concepts are seen as fundamental to the theory. First, there is a link between personal or social issues and societal structures. That is, societal structures (such as institutional practices and power; popular beliefs and worldviews; current political, social and economic ideologies; and social policies) create, maintain, and exacerbate social problems faced by individuals, groups and communities. Second, and related to the first, is that anti-oppressive practice is a necessary aspect of structural social work. This is combined with an understanding of oppression and the interactions of individual, community and institutional levels of oppression. Challenging oppression at all three levels is a component of anti-oppressive practice in the structural tradition. Participant selection As structural social work theory integrates micro, mezzo and macro levels of practice, it was expected that the participants would work in or across at least one and possibly all three of these fields. Initial selection of participants sought people from across all three levels of practice (micro, mezzo and macro) in order to reflect the use of theory in practice from all types of social work, not just one area. Since the focus of the study was on the successful use of theory in the field, participants were expected to have at least two years of social work practice experience post social work degree so that they would have had time to gain confidence in their work. Theoretical sampling is a technique that is an important part of a grounded theory study. In grounded theory, data analysis does not occur in a linear fashion after data  83  collection is complete, but rather it is an ongoing process that should begin as soon as the first interview is completed (Charmaz, 2005, 2006). As categories begin to emerge from the initial analysis, the researcher identifies areas where more data is needed to flesh out the categories. Theoretical sampling guides the researcher to seek out participants for the purpose of acquiring data to address gaps in the developing theory (Charmaz, 2006). Theoretical sampling also leads the researcher to focus on categories which need more data not only by seeking participants with experiences in that area, but also by asking more questions on that category to future participants (Charmaz, 2006; Morse, 2007). A limitation to this sampling method is that it is not random and results are not generalizable. However, as this is exploratory with the focus on generating an initial grounded theory, generalization is not the goal at this time. The strength of the sampling method is that it allows the research to focus directly on a small segment of practitioners (those using a particular theory) who may not be adequately represented in a random study. The sampling methods used here are more likely to move the analysis to the level of the theoretical. Saturation is another important part of grounded theory research that is related to sampling. In grounded theory research, the researcher interviews participants until she or he determines that there is saturation of the theoretical categories (Charmaz, 2006). Charmaz states: “categories are ‘saturated’ when gathering fresh data no longer sparks new theoretical insights, nor reveals new properties of these core theoretical categories” (p. 113). The focus on theoretical saturation means the exact number of participants in the study is unknown at the outset. Participant selection continued until the researcher was convinced that the theoretical categories were thorough and complete.  84  There are no set standards for numbers of participants or observations in qualitative research, generally, nor in grounded theory, specifically (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Patton, 2002). There are no rules for sample size in qualitative inquiry. Sample size depends on what you want to know, the purpose of the inquiry, what’s at stake, what will be useful, what will have credibility, and what can be done with available time and resources. (Patton, 2002, p. 244) Yet it is possible to have a sample size that is too small (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Sandelowski, 1995). “Inadequate sample sizes can undermine the credibility of research findings” (Sandelowski, 1995, p. 179). On the other hand, it is also possible for sample sizes to be too large to allow for an in-depth analysis of the data (Sandelowski, 1995). One suggestion regarding sample and observation size is between 30 to 50 observations, again with the caveat that size be determined by theoretical saturation (Morse, 1994), although Charmaz (2005 & 2006) does not suggest a target number of samples or observations. The term observations does not equal numbers of participants, but can refer to a number of interviews with the same participants as well as other types of data such as texts, documents, questionnaires, and the like (M. Campbell & Gregor, 2002; Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; N. Phillips & Hardy, 2002; Sandelowski, 1995). In this research, there was a goal of between 10 and 15 participants in the study, with a final total of 14. Initial interviews, in particular, were lengthy and in-depth, lasting approximately 2 hours on average and ranging from 1 to 2.5 hours. Follow-up interviews also lasted from 1 to 2.5 hours. Three participants (John, Shanks and Annie) were only interviewed once. Three participants were interviewed three times each (Sophie, Billy and Melissa), and the remaining eight of the participants were each interviewed twice, for a total of 28 interviews and approximately 42 hours of recorded interview time. Some participants  85  were also contacted by email with follow-up questions, and it was made clear that responses to email questions would form a part of the research data. There were 12 email responses that contributed to the data collection. Each participant completed a socio-demographic questionnaire (see Appendix F), and there were 15 texts or documents generated for analysis. Interviews, emails, questionnaires and texts combined resulted in a total of 69 observations for data analysis. Thus, the sample size falls well within Morse’s suggested minimum parameters (1994), and is even on the larger size. Informed consent and ethics approval People who indicated an interest in the study were provided with a brief description of the research and expectations of participants (see Appendix C). Those who were interested in the study were also given an informed consent form to sign before participating in the project (see Appendix D). All participants were adults capable of providing informed consent and the study was deemed to have minimal risk. The project was reviewed and approved by the University of British Columbia’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board and met all of the criteria for research with human subjects (Certificate of Approval #H0901862). Data collection Data was collected in a number of ways, as described above. The primary research data consisted of the interviews, although all of the various forms of data were useful. Data collection: Interview data The interviews consisted of open-ended, semi-structured questions with room for participants to take the interview into areas relevant to them. The ideas identified in the literature review suggested a starting point for interview questions, in conjunction with the 86  overarching guiding role of the research objectives and questions. Interview questions explored stories, actions, examples and thoughts of participants about a structural perspective in the context of their experiences. However, there was a broad enough scope to the interview questions that participants could direct the discussion into other areas or challenge previous categories. Indeed, the analysis demonstrated that the categories from the literature review were superficial and descriptive and did not adequately do justice to the processes involved in theory-practice integration of participants. The interview guide can be found in Appendix E. There was a desire to not alienate or scare off potential participants and so language was chosen carefully, with less focus on questions asking directly about theory and more focus instead on activities, what people did at work, and stories or examples from their work and personal lives. Interview questions as well as recruitment posters and emails asked about social work practice that was informed by a structural social work approach (rather than asking about the use of structural social work theory). Participants were asked about a structural approach or perspective, and the word ‘theory’ was used less often. This did seem to have the intended effect of calming some participants somewhat, in that they were not expected to have a textbook definition of theory on the tip of their tongues, and they were not expected to be following a strict definition of structural social work. Interviews are intended “to explore, not to interrogate” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 29). Grounded theory interviews are semi-structured and Charmaz describes them as “open-ended yet directed, shaped yet emergent, and paced yet unrestricted” (2006, p. 28). The goal is to explore the participants’ life experiences and daily activities, as they relate to the research topic, in a way that uncovers implicit meanings and assumptions that may be hidden in the  87  context of daily activities (Charmaz, 2006). Charmaz states, “I generate data by investigating taken-for-granted aspects of life” (2006, p. 34). The goal is not to understand an individual’s reasons for actions, but rather to better understand larger processes that are actively influencing people’s daily activities. Therefore, although the interview questions explored people’s activities and stories, the goal was to move beyond description, beyond the individual and toward an illumination of actions, relations and processes. The interviews included questions to participants about their social work practice, their understanding of a structural social work perspective, the ways in which they learned about theory, and how they choose which theory (or theories) and interventions to use in their work. Participants were asked to share examples from their social work practice as well as stories from their personal lives, educational experiences, upbringing and other areas as they were relevant to the topic. As with other types of qualitative methods, the interviewer and questions in grounded theory were flexible in order to follow up on themes, ideas and activities as they emerged in each interview. Topics were explored as they came up in the conversation, and so the interviews often differed from each other in terms of how they were structured and organized, sometimes appearing as if the topics were jumping all over the place, as was noted by a few participants. Grounded theory begins to narrow and focus the interview topics as more interviews are completed (Charmaz, 2006). This is due to the focus on developing and pursuing emerging theoretical categories as identified in the initial analysis of the first interviews. As theoretical categories emerged in the initial analyses, these topics were pursued in future interviews, in addition to being open to new directions and categories (Charmaz, 2006). Charmaz advised to be aware of disagreements among the data and to not ignore these but to  88  find out how they fit within the data. Another grounded theorist describes using a process of convergent interviewing where disagreements or exceptions among the data are then probed further in the interviews in order to understand and explain the differences (Dick, 2007). In addition to exploring emerging categories during the following interviews, findings and data in disagreement with previous data or categories were also pursued with additional questioning. Charmaz (2006) also indicates that there is a rhythm to the interview process. Interviews should start at a safe or surface level of conversation, moving into deeper or potentially more difficult (emotionally, etc.) material as the participant indicates that he or she is comfortable. Rather than ending the interview abruptly, the interviewer should move the discussion back to a surface conversational level before closing. I drew on these understandings of the data generation process for the development of the interview process and structure. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. Participants were invited to choose a pseudonym, which was then attached to the transcriptions and used in the writing process. Actual names of participants were not attached to transcriptions, data or analyses. Where participants’ names appeared in the transcriptions, (a few of them spoke of themselves in the third person on occasion), the names were replaced by the pseudonym. The first few interviews served as an opportunity to pilot the interview questions and determine if they were accomplishing the intentions of the research. Initial interviews were spread out over approximately 7 months. The initial and ongoing coding and categorizing guided the development of the interview questions for the next participants. As interviews progressed, it was clear that participants’ examples from practice were providing important information for two newly  89  formed categories in the theoretical framework, so questions specific to these emerging categories were the focus more often in later interviews. Analysis also led to the inclusion of interview questions requesting examples related to the topic from other areas in participants’ lives, such as examples of their experiences with oppression, or examples of learning about a structural approach in school or from friends. A few additional wrap-up questions for the end of the interview also came out of this process. Questions were not necessarily asked with the same wording or in the same order with every participant. Interviews flowed according to the information the person was sharing, although most interviews ended up covering similar concepts, albeit sometimes in different ways. While several new questions were added over time and some questions were reworded to make more sense to participants, there was not a dramatic shift in the interview questions overall, and so the initial participants did not have be completely re-interviewed with new questions, as was a possibility at the outset. However, records were kept of follow-up questions to be asked of earlier participants based on the emerging data. This process is consistent with the grounded theory guidelines for theoretical sampling, data analysis and the ongoing development of interview questions to pursue areas of emergent theoretical categories (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). The interview guide reflects the initial questions as well as those developed as analysis progressed. In grounded theory research, it is not necessary to conduct a follow-up interview with each participant, but such interviews may take place based on the principles of theoretical saturation and sampling (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The original research plan suggested the potential for three distinct and separate interviews with each participant: (1) the initial interview; (2) a follow-up interview for clarification or to  90  ask new questions based on emerging categories; and (3) a final interview to review and request feedback on the results. While all of these types of interviews occurred, they did not normally occur in a set of three distinct interviews per participant. There were several reasons for this. First, as categories emerged the interview questions for the next participants were revised and so, particularly for the later participants, there was often little need for follow-up interviews for clarification or to address new categories, as this had been done in an ongoing fashion. Second, all of the interviews including the initial ones were very thorough and so, as categories emerged during analysis, the first step was to return to the earlier transcripts to analyze them again with a fresh perspective (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Many times, the new categories or coding were also present in the earlier transcripts, but had not been identified during the first analysis. Third, these types of interviews were sometimes combined such that the second interview of a participant often included both follow-up and clarification questions, as well as requesting feedback on the emerging theoretical framework. Finally, the principle of theoretical sampling guided the choice of which participants to return the results to for feedback. The core of the newly developed theoretical framework includes stages of development of structural practice (described in chapter six) and this is where feedback from participants was the most important. It was clear from the initial interviews that only certain participants had progressed through all or most of the stages, and so feedback would be most pertinent and relevant from these people. Thus, the principle of theoretical sampling helped me to identify which participants to return to for the final interview. Prior to the last interview, participants were sent the summary charts on the  91  theoretical framework (found in chapters five, six and seven). A few of the participants who expressed interest were also provided with a rough draft of chapter six. These findings were then discussed in the final interview, contributing to the concept of interpretive rigour where efforts are made to ensure that the researcher’s interpretations fit with the participants’ experiences (Cooney, 2011). Data collection: Socio-demographic questionnaires Participants were asked to complete a socio-demographic questionnaire before the interview. Surveys and questionnaires have been utilized as adjuncts to grounded theory research at times (Currie, 2009). Participants were told that completion of this was voluntary, and that the interview could proceed without it, if they preferred. All of the participants completed the form. Given structural theory’s focus on anti-oppressive understandings and the desire to explore data in the context of oppression and privilege, participants were asked in the questionnaire to indicate whether or not they identified with a marginalized population. The form asked for their job title, a description of their employer, and a description of work activities, including linking each activity to a specific level of practice (micro, mezzo or macro). They were also asked to estimate what percentage of time at their current position was spent on activities at each level, and for the same estimate of percentages over their social work career. The form also had questions on how long they had been in their current position, levels of education, location of education, whether or not they were taught a structural approach at school, and when their degrees or certificates had been completed, which allowed for an understanding of how long they had been practicing since their first social work degree. These questions were useful to the data analysis process and responses are discussed in more detail in the next chapter.  92  Data collection: Textual data Textual (or written) as well as verbal (or interview) data are components of data collection in both critical discourse analysis and grounded theory (M. Campbell & Gregor, 2002; Carroll, 2004; Charmaz, 2006; Parker, 2004; N. Phillips & Hardy, 2002; D. E. Smith, 1987, 1990, 1999). While grounded theory authors typically distinguish between written and verbal data (M. Campbell & Gregor, 2002; Charmaz, 2006), discourse analysis researchers often describe all data (verbal, written, symbols, pictures, etc.) as text (Carroll, 2004; N. Phillips & Hardy, 2002). For the purposes of this research, I have established a distinction where verbal data is described as interview data, and the term textual data refers to written or visual documents. According to grounded theory, participants themselves may refer to texts which have an influence on their experiences or which guide, expand or limit their practices or interpretations of their worlds and activities (Charmaz, 2006). When participants identified texts as having an impact on their work and experiences, they were asked if it was possible to share a copy of the text for analysis as a way of offering additional depth to the research. Many participants mentioned texts, often more than one, and several of them were able to share these for analysis. Eight participants shared texts and a total of 15 texts were analyzed. Texts were typically related to the participants’ work such as program mandates, job descriptions, agency mission statements, and forms they were required to fill out. More unusual texts were also identified, such as government reports and, in one case, a person’s Facebook page. More details on the types of texts and the contexts in which they existed are described in the results chapters.  93  Data analysis tools: Field notes, memos and diagrams Field notes, memos and diagrams are useful tools by which the researcher can record thoughts and ideas about the emerging categories and theoretical framework (Charmaz, 2006). These written records become another type of data to use during analysis, and also are a way to document and spur on current analyses; thus, these tools can be both data and a process of analysis, although in this study they were used more to assist with the analysis. These written records, along with analysis notes, can also serve as a type of audit trail to demonstrate the quality, depth and transparency of the research (Bowen, 2009). Charmaz (2006) suggests that although ethnographers use field notes the most extensively, field notes can be valuable even when the research focuses on the use of interviews. Covan (2007) states that there are three types of field notes: (1) simple descriptions, (2) comments on methodology, and (3) and theoretical observations. In this research, my field notes included elements of all three of these as well as notes on my experiences as they related to the research. According to Charmaz, grounded theory has a particular interest in processes and actions, and these are to be reflected in the field notes (2006). In my field notes I commented on the use of language by participants and on points that appeared to be important or troublesome. They were also useful to me in the development of coding, categories and the theoretical framework. Memo-writing is considered to be different than field notes (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008), although there is an overlap with theoretical field notes (Covan, 2007). Charmaz describes memo-writing as a tool to assist in data analysis and the development of categories and a theoretical framework. This is where researchers write about theoretical connections between emerging categories and patterns (Lempert, 2007). Memos in this  94  research were typically notes on initial insights about the developing categories and theoretical framework, so as not to lose them for later writing. The lines between field notes and memos eventually blurred in this research, and trying to separate them became confusing rather than useful, so eventually I combined the two into one ongoing document. Memos and field notes were reviewed several times during the course of data analysis and this proved useful to the analytic process as earlier ideas, upon review, often spurred analysis on to more complexity. As I began writing the chapters on results, the use of field notes and memos slowed. Instead of using formal memos or field notes as much, I instead wrote about emerging analytic ideas and new insights, and incorporated these directly into either the data analysis document or an outline of the results chapters so that they were visible to me as the work progressed. The tool that proved the most useful to me during the analysis process was that of diagramming (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Diagramming places codes and categories into a visual display for the purpose of assisting in organization of categories, highlighting gaps, and explaining or extrapolating the relationships between and within categories. Diagrams are connected to theorizing in various ways and as such are important to the analysis process (Lempert, 2007). Diagramming was very useful in thinking through the relationships between the categories and in understanding the stages of development in the practitioner space, as is consistent with the literature (Charmaz, 2006; Lempert, 2007). I developed the diagrams from initial simplistic ones to the later more complex charts used in chapters five, six and seven. Diagrams initially demonstrated gaps in the findings and spurred my analysis to greater depth, while the final charts provide an overview of the findings and the theoretical framework.  95  Steps to ensure rigour and to move the analysis beyond the literature review A number of actions were undertaken in order to ensure that the findings were coming out of the data, the ideas from the literature review were not imposed on the data, and the research moved beyond the parameters of the literature review. The line-by-line coding as the first step in the analysis process was one valuable tool in ensuring that the codes were coming out of the data. However, in addition to that analysis step described later in this chapter, there were six additional actions taken to ensure analysis rigour. The first action to separate the analysis from the literature was a time lapse of approximately 3 years between the completion of the literature review and the beginning of data collection and analysis. Charmaz encourages this use of a time lapse: “you can let this material [literature review] lie fallow until after you have developed your categories and the analytic relationships between them” (2006, p. 166). As is suggested, I did not revisit the literature review until after the analysis was largely completed. The second action I undertook to prevent the imposition of the literature review on the data was to maintain a sense of self-awareness about this potential and to consciously focus on the data itself during analysis. “There is no reason why a researcher cannot be self aware, and be able to appreciate other theories without imposing them on the data” (Urquhart, 2007, p. 351). The third action to prevent the imposition of literature on the data is to “consider treating extant concepts as problematic and then to look for the extent to which their characteristics are lived and understood, not as given in text books” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 166). During analysis I remained open to data that disputed the literature review as well as data that expanded or changed the ideas found in the literature, or came at the information from a new perspective based in participant experiences. In her description of the analysis process 96  Charmaz (2006) exhorts researchers to ensure that each line of coding is included in the developing analysis, even if initially it does not seem to have relevance. Thus a piece of data cannot be ignored if it does not seem to fit. This concrete guideline, while frustrating at times, proved to be very useful in ensuring that the analysis remained true to the data, resulting in numerous findings with significant differences from the initial literature review. The fourth action to demonstrate how the analysis remained true to the data is that of an audit trail (Bowen, 2009; Cooney, 2011). Written records in the form of coding, field notes and on-going analysis were not only useful to the analysis process, but these records also serve to provide a concrete link between the developed categories and the data itself. As the analysis deepened, each version of the analysis was filed electronically by date. I reviewed these documents periodically and could see how the analysis developed over time, while monitoring to ensure continued connections to the data. The fifth action with the purpose of ensuring that the findings are true to participants’ experiences is to share the results with participants and ask for their thoughts on the findings (Cooney, 2011). I conducted follow-up interviews with participants to check out emerging categories and the developing framework with them. Participants provided thoughtful insights that added to the depth of the analysis, while enthusiastically supporting the developing framework. The sixth set of actions not only demonstrates a strong connection between the findings and the data, but it also reveals how the overlapping data collection and analysis process guided the developing interview questions to address new categories suggested in earlier interviews. A number of actions are relevant here including: preliminary findings from early interviews were discussed and confirmed with later participants, codes used  97  language from the participants’ interviews wherever possible, and information from earlier participants guided the focus of the interview questions in new directions for later interviews as categories emerged. All of these connections to participants’ experiences and interviews are tools to ensure rigour of the study and to ensure that the findings are grounded in the data (Cooney, 2011). These actions also ensured that the emerging findings moved well beyond the ideas found in the literature review and actively pursued the new ideas coming out of the interviews.  Data Analysis Data collection, data analysis and the writing of the results were intertwined throughout the research process, as is expected with grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006). Data analysis began after the second interview was completed, and interviews were spread out over several months to allow time for initial analyses to inform later interviews. Researchers are expected to examine the methods in the context of their research and use components flexibly, as relevant to each study (Charmaz, 2006). As the analysis began I chose to remain quite close to the methods outlined by Charmaz in order to become comfortable with the process, and to better understand how it worked and the possibilities it offered. Over the course of several analyses I had a much better grasp of the analysis process and thus how to use it more effectively and efficiently. The process became quicker but without compromising the findings. Consistent with Charmaz’s (2006) suggestions, analysis took place in a series of four steps. As is also consistent with grounded theory methods, the steps blurred into and overlapped with each other as the analysis deepened; however, they are described separately here to assist in articulating the process. The first step was to conduct line-by-line coding  98  with a goal of developing codes that describe processes and actions. At this step literally each line of the transcript is coded. Interviews varied from 1 to 2.5 hours each with lengthy transcripts, so upon completion of coding for one transcript I would easily have 800 to 1,000 lines of codes. Charmaz (2006) suggests that line-by-line coding keeps the researcher close to the data ensuring that codes and categories come out of the data rather than being forced on the data by the researcher. Similarly, Corbin and Strauss (2008) describe this step of analysis as “open coding” (p. 160) which consists of “break[ing] the data into manageable pieces” (p. 160), by relying on “natural breaks in the manuscript” (p. 162). Where the transcripts described a particular event or incident over several lines, then incident-byincident coding could be used instead. In my analysis, it was line-by-line coding that was the most useful to the analytic process, although incident-by-incident coding occurred occasionally when the data offered discrete incidents by which to do this. It is vital at this initial coding stage to not just summarize the transcripts, but to move the codes to the level of action. Each time I coded a line I would ask myself, “What is the action taking place here? What is the participant doing?” I would review codes often as well. Initially I found myself simply summarizing the participant’s statements and I would have to go back, think about the actions the person was taking in that line, and re-code for actions rather than summaries. The initial coding process was very time consuming and drawn out, particularly for the earlier transcripts. Charmaz (2006) acknowledges that this step fragments the data into parts, but writes that this is a deliberate process to create the bones of the research and to set the stage for reassembling the data into a coherent whole (Charmaz, 2006).  99  The second step of analysis is focused coding, which is about organizing similar initial codes into groups or categories (Charmaz, 2006). At this stage, as analytic trends become visible, the researcher revisits previously coded interviews to review both interviews and the codes to see if the trends can be found in these other interviews as well. This is when the researcher begins to organize codes into categories and then works to elucidate the properties of each category (Charmaz, 2006). There is an emphasis on ensuring that the evolving categories are grounded in the data, which is strengthened by the process of line-byline coding from the first step of analysis (Dey, 2007). After the first two or three interviews and analysis of transcripts, and a comparison of codes and interview data, I began to see categories emerge naturally from the codes. At this point I began a new electronic document into which I copied and pasted codes from each coded transcript, putting them into groups that eventually became categories. This was the start of my focused coding, and this process continued throughout the analysis. Axial coding is the third step in data analysis. The purpose of this level of coding is to further develop the categories that came out of the previous step and identify subcategories (Charmaz, 2006). The codes are grouped together as being either a main category or a related subcategory contained within one of the main categories. It is at this step that the categories begin to develop into more complex forms. As my analysis progressed, steps two and three, focused and axial coding, began to occur concurrently. New categories developed while I continued to flesh out existing ones with more detailed subcategories. At times, a category and related sub-categories developed quickly, while other times I struggled with categories and codes for a longer period. As well, the initial development of codes, categories and sub-categories changed over time as the analysis went on with additional  100  interviews. As is expected during the process, categories or codes expanded sometimes, while on other occasions they were eliminated or merged with others (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Dey, 2007; Kelle, 2007). At this point I was going back and forth between the analysis of the current transcript to previous codes and transcripts in order to identify similarities and differences in codes and categories so that codes were grouped in the most effective way. This use of constant comparative methods was essential in the organizing and reorganizing of codes, categories and subcategories. Comparisons on a horizontal plane include comparing codes with codes, data with data, and categories with categories. At the axial step a vertical comparison of codes with subcategories, and subcategories with categories was added to the analysis process. This continued through the final step of analysis. The final step of analysis in grounded theory research is theoretical coding (Charmaz, 2006) or integrating categories (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). At this stage it is the focus on the relationships between substantive categories that moves the analysis to the level of the development of a theoretical framework (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Charmaz emphasizes attending to actions and processes of participants as a starting point in moving toward understanding the connections and interactions between categories, which is crucial at this stage. At this point the analysis moves from static, descriptive themes, to interactive categories that have movement between them; this is theoretical coding that moves the analysis into the development of a theoretical framework. Within the analysis of the first two or three interviews, new categories and a greater depth to categories began to emerge that directed the development of future interview  101  questions. Questions were revised in order to assess the accuracy of the categories and to flesh them out to the greatest extent possible, as is expected in grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006; Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The initial questions asked participants about supports and barriers in their lives and work that affected their use of a structural social work perspective. As the interviews and analysis progressed, emerging categories led to focusing questions more on participants’ experiences and examples from their work and personal lives. One of the guiding factors in this decision was Charmaz’s (2006) encouragement to focus on the actions and processes of participants in order to move from a descriptive to a theoretical level of analysis. Initial questions led participants to describe the context of their work and lives, while later questions focusing more on their experiences led them to talk about the unique ways in which they interacted with these supports and barriers. This added new dimensions and depth to the analysis. Throughout the analysis of the interviews, the perspective of critical discourse analysis provided an additional perspective by exploring the language of the participants or the texts and the context for these. In my analysis of texts and documents I examined the role of language in overtly or covertly supporting or challenging a structural perspective. In particular, I used critical discourse analysis to examine the way language was used to resist challenges to the use of a structural approach. To do this I paid attention to the ways in which participants talked about their work, how they described talking to others about their structural social work activities, and how the language they used was, or was not, useful in opening doors to a structural approach.  102  Ethical dilemmas During the interviews I asked participants to discuss their use of theory in practice and give examples of activities from their practice as well as related personal examples. As such, the interviews involved little to no risk to the participants. One potential ethical concern identified prior to the research was around ensuring the confidentiality of participants’ clients as they discuss their social work practice, and so participants were reminded that the research was not looking for identifying information about their clients. However, the reality was that participants talked about their own activities, examples, feelings and thoughts around client situations, and so sharing of client information was minimal and never risked identifying a client. As well, I took steps to maintain confidentiality of the participants by assigning an identifier, not the participants’ name, to the interview transcripts and by keeping consent forms, transcripts and any other potentially identifying information in a locked cabinet. There was also the possibility that participants, when discussing their social work practice, may disclose past activities that are considered to be unethical by professional guidelines or which have the potential to cause harm. The consent form outlined the researcher’s responsibility to report any information that is required to be reported by either social work ethical guidelines or by legal authorities. This did not occur during the research. One final potential ethical issue involved the use of various methods of data analysis, which may have resulted in my interpretation of the participants’ words in a way with which they disagree, or in a way that attributes an undesirable trait or behaviour to the participant. Given that the analysis focused on the development of theoretical categories that are relevant across several participants, it is not possible to attribute one category to any one participant. Therefore it is more likely that if a participant disagrees with a particular category that they 103  will not connect that category to their interview, but attribute it to other participants, which may very well be accurate. However, the possibility of participants disagreeing with portions of the analysis was discussed with the participants when reviewing the informed consent, and they were given a chance to respond to the initial analysis to share their thoughts on whether or not the points reflected their experiences. Actual disagreement with findings did not occur, although participants at times indicated that a finding, category or question did not make sense to them personally, or they added ideas that fleshed out the findings. In one instance a participant expressed concern that a quote of hers may be too revealing, so I removed the one piece of information that was of concern. Validity The final component of the research design, according to Maxwell (2005), is that of validity. Qualitative researchers are clear that the term validity is not used in the same sense as in quantitative or positivistic research, and that validity does not mean to infer that there is one objective truth that the research seeks to prove (Maxwell, 2005). The concept of validity as a way of demonstrating the “credibility of a description, conclusion, explanation, interpretation, or other sort of account” (Maxwell, 2005, p. 106) in qualitative research is taken a step further with the use of the term crystallization (Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005). Richardson and St. Pierre suggest that reality is multi-faceted with many different faces and depictions. When a light shines on a crystal, it does not show its one self more clearly. Instead the light passes through the crystal and refracts into many different interpretations and views of the one object. Thus crystallization enables the researcher to see the many diverse perspectives of the topic under study. The goal of this research is to explore various processes involved in supporting or challenging the use of structural social work theory at a  104  practice level. Crystallization as a form of validity is reflected in the numerous perspectives of the participants and textual documents, all of which contributed to, and came together in, the findings. Thus the richness of perspectives identified throughout the research is itself a form of rigour or validity. Charmaz (2006) and Corbin and Strauss (2008) suggest additional criteria to ensure that grounded theory research is of a high quality, although they do not use the term validity. Charmaz suggests a series of questions to ask of the research in order to ensure that the research is credible, original, useful, and that the analysis resonates with the data and with people’s experiences (2006, pp. 182-183). In order for the findings to be credible, Charmaz examines the familiarity with the topic, sufficiency of the data and observations, ongoing comparisons throughout the analysis, links from the analysis back to the data and a sufficiency of evidence to support the claims. Questions around originality examine the potential importance of the work as well as the uniqueness of the findings. In examining resonance, Charmaz looks at whether or not: categories are full, hidden as well as overt meanings are represented, links are drawn between individuals and larger structures, and the findings make sense to the participants. The final questions from Charmaz are around the usefulness of the work, including whether or not it offers ideas for further research, offers something that people can use in their daily lives, and the ways in which it adds to current knowledge and improving the world. Charmaz does not list these areas as requirements, but as criteria to consider in the development of grounded theories. I revisited these criteria several times over the research process in order to maintain a high standard of research quality and credibility.  105  Positioning of the researcher One more point of agreement between grounded theory (as Charmaz articulates it, 2005 & 2006) and critical discourse analysis (Parker, 2004), is the understanding that the researcher is not neutral and objective, as claimed in positivist research, but that the researcher is a participant or a subject in the same world that he or she seeks to research. The process of conducting research itself is also not neutral. A critical approach to research seeks to address inequities in the world and move toward social justice and social change (Carroll, 2004; Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). In this section I am articulating my interest in, and possible biases toward, the topic in order to acknowledge my position in the research. I have utilized structural social work theory as a practitioner, and have also taught the theory to students. While I have an obvious bias toward wanting the theory to work, given my investment in it, my experiences suggest that an understanding of the theory at an abstract level does not necessarily translate into an understanding of what that means for daily practice decisions, activities and interventions. Watching myself and students struggle with the implementation of the theory suggests that there are problems with the operationalization of structural social work theory that have not yet been identified. Although my experiences in teaching and working with structural theory influenced the development of the research topic, it was important to ensure that they did not impose biases on the analysis of the research data. One of my potential biases is my own understanding of structural social work theory and my successes and challenges in practicing from a structural perspective. Everyone has their own interpretation of theory as well as their own encounters with theory in a practice setting. What I perceive of as a problem in theorypractice integration may, for others, be non-existent; and others may encounter challenges or successes with theory and practice that I had not considered. 106  The experiences of participants as they interpreted, understood and worked with structural theory was an important piece in understanding theory-practice integration. As such, I actively maintained self-awareness of my thought and analysis processes to ensure that I did not impose my definition of structural social work theory on participants. I remained open to hearing about theory-practice integration experiences, challenges and successes that were different from my expectations. The actions I took, described earlier, to ensure methodological rigour and to keep the analysis closely connected to the data, also served to oppose potential bias by constantly focusing my attention on the data.  Conclusion According to Maxwell (2005), the components of qualitative research design are to be consistent and complementary. Throughout the study implementation, the research paradigm provides a connecting thread that weaves the design together in a coherent whole. A final point is that of a desired potential outcome of the research, which brings the chapter back, full-circle, to the starting point of structural social work theory. One of the main hopes of this research is that it will inform the continued development of structural social work theory, including the ways it is articulated, operationalized, taught and practiced. This is consistent with critical theory and dialectics. Ollman suggests that the dance of the dialectic seeks to understand the present by understanding its inception in the past, and thereby is able to change the future by understanding how the future is contained in the present. Thus, Marx’s phrase: “we wish to find the new world through the critique of the old (1967: 212)” (Marx in Ollman, 2004, p. 135). This is indeed my wish in doing this research.  107  CHAPTER FOUR. RESULTS I: DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION Analysis of the interview data identified rich and detailed information on the successful use of structural social work theory in practice. Findings have been divided into three chapters. The presentation of results begins in this chapter with an overview of the findings and then the descriptive information. The categories in chapter five are the contexts that the participants work and live within. The findings discussed here make up the structure side of the agency-structure dialectic. Within these contexts participants face either supports or barriers to their structural practice. Chapter six contains the heart and fundamental core of the findings. The core findings consist of the processes and actions of th