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Social work research and evaluation: a critical realist perspective
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Research on evidence in social work, inspired by evidence research and evaluation in medicine, mainly builds on empirical correlations between standardized methods and its effects on clients. This kind of research is a prerequisite for evidence-based practice (EBP). The ambition is to verify that certain methods probably are more effective than others, but the content and processes in between interventions and results remains a black box. This kind of research and evaluation is mainstream in the field of EBP, and randomised controlled trials usually are regarded as ”gold standard”.

However, if the ambition is to explain how and why results emerge from the content of interventions and its contextual contingencies – to open up the black box – the research or evaluation task will be quite different. In order to discover the powers and causes in the social reality, that in a deeper sense explain empirical observations, we have to turn to a meta-theoretical perspective taking us beneath the empirical surface. Powers and causes in social reality are seldom observable, rather we must grasp them in terms of abstract entities like structures and patterns of generative mechanisms. It is a matter of developing theory about these structures and mechanisms, based on empirical observations. The meta-theoretical perspective critical realism can work as guide to this sub-empirical dimension of social reality.

This presentation presents the CAIMeR theory that connects critical realism to social work research and evaluation. This theory can help us explain the way results in social work practice arise from the content of interventions and its contextual contingencies. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Mechanisms, Meta-theory, Explanations
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-67861OAI: diva2:614504
The 3rd European Conference for Social Work Research, 20-22 March 2013, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Available from: 2013-04-04 Created: 2013-04-04 Last updated: 2013-06-03Bibliographically approved

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Blom, Björn
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