Discourses in Residential Child Care and Possibilities for Evidence-Based Practice
This article explores professional discourses in the Norwegian residential child care system. It discusses how the discourses serve as constraints on and possibilities for evidence-based practice when different definitions of evidence-based practice are considered. Among the Nordic countries, Norway has been a forerunner in the implementation of evidence-based practice in child welfare. However, I argue that tensions exist, both within professional practice and between professional understandings and policy aims. I use discourse theory to analyze interviews with 19 professionals working in coercive residential child care. The results reveal two competing professional discourses: the discourse of technoscience and the discourse of indeterminacy. Possibilities of evidence-based practice in residential child care are found within both discourses if a wide and inclusive definition of evidence-based practice is applied. This study emphasizes the importance of engaging in constant reflection when discussing possibilities for evidence-based practice within residential child care.
Keywords: professional discourses, residential child care, evidence-based practice, scientific knowledge, professional judgment, indeterminacy, discretion
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