The use and application of knowledge in practice : the lived experiences of social workers in adult services

Hesketh, A 2019, The use and application of knowledge in practice : the lived experiences of social workers in adult services , DProf thesis, University of Salford.

This is the latest version of this item.

Download (2MB) | Preview
[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (3MB)


This purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of social workers in adult social services in the United Kingdom, as they use and apply knowledge in practice. This is situated within the wider debate as to what might comprise the knowledge base for practice, how practitioners use knowledge and the issues they face in its application to practice.

In some ways, this relationship between knowledge and practice lies at the very core of social work itself and it can be argued that it is this which makes it distinctive. Many writers continue to acknowledge the ‘theory/practice dichotomy’, which can be considered as an unacceptable gap, a disjuncture between what is taught or learned and what is practiced. Knowledge is seen as the domain of the academic and practice of the social worker. Much of the work in this area highlights the views and opinions of academics with little attention given to the experiences of practitioners who remain a relatively under-researched professional group.

This qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) presents an in-depth, idiographic analysis of the lived experiences of social workers in the adult field who discussed their experiences of the use and development of knowledge in their practice. Findings offer insights into what the social workers experienced as challenging, from both the increased complexity and pace of their workload with efforts to understand and intervene in the lives of their service users. The essence of the experience was condensed into three superordinate themes which emerged from the data;

  • A Complex Process.
  • The Use of Knowledge/Functionality.
  • ‘Putting it into Practice’.
Detailing different aspects of the social workers’ experiences, the themes highlighted the complexity of impressions of the nature and type of knowledge used in practice, the various ways in which knowledge is used and the struggles to articulate and find a language to explain the issues faced in applying knowledge.

As no previous study has considered the use and application of knowledge by practitioners in the adult sector in this way, the research findings provide new insights by hearing the voices of the participants enabling them to convey their understanding of what they perceive are the issues facing them in this important area of their practice.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Contributors: Brettle, AJ (Supervisor) and Rogers, MM (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Depositing User: A Hesketh
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 12:49
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:18

Available Versions of this Item

    • The use and application of knowledge in practice : the lived experiences of social workers in adult services. (deposited 11 Feb 2019 12:49) [Currently Displayed]

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year