Social work is an activity that is irreducibly dependent on language, whether in the form of talking, reading or writing — so the way in which language is used matters. Since the late 1980s, different theoretical approaches have been used to develop a range of ‘linguistically grounded’ models of social work (Rojek et al., 1988, p. 137). For example, Rojek and colleagues (1988) turned to Foucault, while Humphries (1997) and Jack (1997) drew on the language of discourse analysis to frame their respective discussions of social work education and child protection practice. Elsewhere, hermeneutic (Whan, 1986; Turney, 1997) and deconstructive approaches (Solas, 1995; Turney, 1996) have also been explored to inform understanding of different aspects of practice.
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