Social constructionism offers valuable insights into the study of social problems for example, poverty, homelessness, crime and delinquency, including how social phenomena 'become' social problems, through social processes of interaction and interpretation. The social construction of child maltreatment has recently emerged as a site of scholarly inquiry and critique. This paper explores through three case studies how 'responsibility for child maltreatment' is constructed in child protection practice, with a specific focus on how 'responsibility' may also be gendered. In particular, how is gender associated with responsibility, such that the identity-pair, 'responsible mothers, invisible men', is a highly likely outcome as claimed in feminist literature? What other assumptions about 'identities of risk' or 'dangerousness' articulate with patriarchy and influence how responsibility is constructed? The case studies explore normally invisible processes by which social categories become 'fact', 'knowledge' and 'truth'. Furthermore, the social construction of 'responsibility for child maltreatment' is extended by a reflexive analysis of my own constructionist practices, as researcher/writer in claims making. The analysis offers an insight into the dynamic and dialectical relationship between professional and organisational knowledge and practice, allowing for a critique of knowledge itself, the basis for the claims made and possible alternative ways of knowing.
Field of Research
160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment