Grasping the social life of documents in human service practice

Whitaker, EM ORCID: 2021, 'Grasping the social life of documents in human service practice' , in: Doing Human Service Ethnography , Policy Press, pp. 83-99.

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Human service work of all kinds is full of documentation; it is central to the creation and maintenance of the work itself and to stabilising local professional cultures and identities. Yet, all too often, practices of authorship and readership are overlooked in ethnographies of organisational life. To understand the everyday work of human service we need to attend to the social life of documents, taking seriously the routine tasks of recording, form-filling, and case-building. The chapter takes up Prior’s (2003) call to attend to the vitality of documents. The focus is on a single documentary form which is followed across several ethnographic episodes. The analysis identifies three distinct ethnographic approaches for studying documentation: tracing the material and graphical impact of the form itself, puzzling out practices of inscription and the work this does, and utilising our roaming capacity to explore how people use forms in everyday interactional practices with others.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Jacobsson, K and Gubrium, J
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Publisher: Policy Press
ISBN: 9781447355793 (paperback); 9781447355809 (ebook); 9781447355816 (ebook)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: EM Whitaker
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2021 08:36
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:37

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