Conceptualisations of Family and Social Work Family Practice in Chile, Mexico and Norway

Ingunn Studsrød, Ingunn T. Ellingsen, Carolina Muñoz Guzmán and Sandra E. Mancinas Espinoza - Social Policy and Society


Social workers all around the world work with families and family complexity in their everyday practice. In this article, we present findings from a cross-national study exploring how social workers in child welfare conceptualise ‘family’, and how they relate to ‘family’ in their practice. Data presented is taken from focus groups with twenty-eight social workers from Chile, Mexico and Norway. The findings reveal that in Chilean, Mexican, and Norwegian social work, the conceptualisation of family has expanded over time, acknowledging various family forms and displays, and an increased orientation towards networks regardless of biological ties. However, differences were found, particularly in the way professionals view extended family, perspectives on family intervention, and the position of children in the family. Practical implications will be discussed.