‘State governing of knowledge’–constraining social work research and practice*

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift


Evidence-based practice (EBP) has been launched, spread, and established in social work in Sweden in the last decade. Today, impact studies and ‘what works’ are the recommended approaches, and medical ways to understand and examine social problems thus are prioritised over the broad social science perspectives on which social work rests. This development has culminated in an institutionalised system called ‘state governing of knowledge’. We analyse the Swedish EBP movement as an ‘epistemic community’, directing our attention to the ways in which evidence is constructed and proclaimed valid for policy and practice. Empirically, we build on documents from various actors involved in EBP in social work and on results from our on-going research on documentary practices in the social services. We identify four strategies that key actors use within the Swedish EBP community to contest, redefine, and constrain the academic knowledge base of social work: efforts to (1) construct a (state) knowledge bureaucracy, (2) standardise social work research, (3) exclude important aspects of social work expertise, and (4) govern social work practice. All four strategies are supported by ‘improvement rhetoric’ that aims at justifying the project.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Socialt arbete


  • epistemic community, Evidence-based practice, knowledge base, rhetoric, state governing
TidskriftEuropean Journal of Social Work
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2018 okt 11
Peer review utfördJa