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In defense of actuarialsim: Interrogating the logic of risk in social work practice

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Publication details

JournalJournal of social work practice
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2017
Issue number4
Volume31
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)395-410
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article presents findings from a study of risk-based decision making which challenges aspects of the well-established consensus regarding the role that actuarially generated knowledge plays in risk based decision making in social work. Firstly, it suggests that there is little direct relationship between the process of risk assessment and its outcome. Secondly, it highlights that subjective practitioner judgement plays a role in elevating risk levels beyond those which actuarial calculations warrant. Finally, although risk aversion is evident, this cannot be reductively attributed to actuarial knowledge generation strategies. Instead, it is a function of practice in an environment in which fear of blame is a very real concern. I conclude with discussion of the implications of these findings for ongoing debates regarding forms of knowledge in practice.

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© 2017 GAPS. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • risk; actuarialsim; social work; decision making

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