GEACC-CLISSIS / I. P. Portalegre (Portugal)
Promoting clients’ bureaucratic literacy: evidence from social work encounters in Portugal
Presenting papers to clients provides social workers with a crucial opportunity for promoting their bureaucratic literacy, ensuring their understanding of important information and encouraging active participation in the management of their own case. Still, this task presents practical challenges to all the participants, given not only their asymmetric knowledge of the text and information contained therein but also how, sitting around the office table, they have different opportunities to visually access and read the document. Based on a large collection of video recordings of encounters between social workers and clients in Portugal, this presentation will take a close look at the interactional organization of social workers’ presentation of paper documents to clients, showing some of the practical problems emerging within the moment-by-moment unfolding of this task and how they are skilfully managed by professionals and clients through talk and bodily conduct, and reflecting on the implications of this task for appreciating Social Work practice from an interactional and ecological perspective.