Risk at the Boundaries of Social Work: An Editorial

Rory Crath, Jeremy Dixon, Joanne Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

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In this editorial we introduce a special thematic collection of articles which focus on how risk operates, or is conceptualised, at the boundaries of social work practice. The collection includes theoretical, empirical, and practice-oriented articles, each of which critically engages with contemporary debates about risk and social work and its complex intersections with boundary making in diverse fields. These fields include social work with older people, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and people with learning disabilities. We begin the editorial with a brief account of how social work can be defined and the competing ideological traditions that underpin differing forms of social work in practice, policy, and research. We also point to the contrasting nature of risk studies in relation to social work, ranging from the pragmatic concern with measuring and managing risk, to critical analysis of how and why risk is conceptualised and socially constructed in particular ways. We provide an overview of each of the five articles that comprise the special issue, their intersecting themes, and how they animate in different ways the idea of boundaries and boundary making. In the final section of the editorial, we consider the possibilities for the future direction of theoretical and empirical work in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Risk & Society
Issue number1-2
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • Risk
  • adult protection
  • child protection
  • decision-making
  • social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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