The Discursive Struggles of the Client–Worker Relationship in the Social Services

  • Hanna Nykänen | hanna.k.nykanen@jyu.fi Department of Language and Communication Studies University of Jyvaskyla, Finland.
  • Leena Mikkola Department of Language and Communication Studies University of Jyvaskyla, Finland.

Abstract

This study examines how disability service workers identify the discourses of the client-worker relationships. We studied the clientworker relationship from the perspective of the relational dialectics theory with a focus on relational contradictions and the meanings created within discursive struggles. We analyzed the interview data from 22 social workers using contrapuntal analysis. According to the social workers’ perceptions, two discursive struggles exist in client-worker relationships: i) the struggle of integration, consisting of the contradiction of the ideal and the real and the contradiction of closeness and reservedness and ii) the struggle of certainty, consisting of the contradiction of predictability and novelty and the contradiction of openness and closedness. These struggles and contradictions arranges on the societal and relational frames to fully depict the nature of social work. Overall, our analysis shows that the client-worker relationship is both bound to the norms of a professional and a close interpersonal relationship, making its study particularly interesting.

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Published
2020-09-01
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Original Articles
Keywords:
client-social worker relationships, contrapuntal analysis, relational dialectics theory, social services, interviews
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How to Cite
Nykänen, Hanna, and Leena Mikkola. 2020. “The Discursive Struggles of the Client–Worker Relationship in the Social Services”. Qualitative Research in Medicine and Healthcare 4 (1). https://doi.org/10.4081/qrmh.2020.8688.