The ‘Rule of Optimism’ Revisited

By | 24th October 2017

Another attempt to correct the usage of this description of the organizational culture of child protection work has just been published in the British Journal of Social Work by Martin Kettle and Sharon Jackson. The authors extend the analysis by a wider consideration of the role of optimism in everyday professional life.

“As an idea, concept or, as Dingwall (2013) identifies, ‘phrase’, ‘the rule’ first appeared in Dingwall et al.’s (1983) monograph The Protection of Children: State Intervention in Family Life. As a text, it has remained highly influential and occupies a status as one of the discipline’s classic studies of social work practice and the law, with a second edition published in 1995 and republished in 2014. The 1995 and 2014 editions are post-scripted and prefaced, respectively, to attend to the precarious and colourful history of ‘the rule’. Dingwall et al.’s (1983) monograph presented the findings of a large-scale, ethnographic study that took place in 3 diverse authorities within England that traced cases of child abuse and neglect from identification through intervention and onwards to outcomes. The scale and robustness of this study alongside its historically innovative approach has contributed to its longevity as a classic.”

The Protection of Children is now available in e-format from Quidpro

See also my Sage socialsciencespace blog from 2013

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