Risk and liminality in mental health social work

Warner, Joanne and Gabe, Jonathan (2004) Risk and liminality in mental health social work. Health, Risk & Society, 6 (4). pp. 387-399. ISSN 1369-8575. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698570412331323261

Abstract

From a socio-cultural standpoint, the concept of otherness is central to explaining the way risk is associated with certain social groups rather than others. In the mental health field, writers have frequently employed the concept of otherness to describe the ways in which mental health service users have been perceived, especially since the implementation of community care policies in the UK in the 1990s. Despite its popularity, few empirical studies have explored the concept of otherness and its use in explaining the risks associated with being mentally ill in any depth, and fewer still have done so in relation to professional practice. The present paper draws upon data from semi-structured interviews with 39 mental health social workers in order to explore the relevance of this concept in risk assessment. The paper employs the concept of liminal otherness as an analytic tool to explain how social workers assessed the risk of clients who were 'difficult to place' because of uncertainty about whether their behaviour was the result of their personality or their mental illness. It is concluded that liminality is relevant to understanding the following: the way in which some service users are found 'in-between' places in terms of service provision; the allocation of responsibility for the management of the risks they represent to social work as a liminal profession; and the symbolic importance of 'the street' as a liminal space within which forms of 'racial otherness' have become central to contemporary constructions of community care.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: risk, liminality, mental, health, social work
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Medway
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Samantha Osborne
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:09
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2014 10:42
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/306 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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