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Lifelong Learning Centre

How the ‘professional gaze’ can hinder..

Posted on Thursday, 07 March 2013 at 4pm
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
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In my last post I mentioned research I am undertaking and thought it might be useful to expand on how the ‘professional gaze’ can hinder as well as help in supporting families.

This research, also involves understanding how national policy sets the scene or framework in which local authorities, health services, the criminal justice system and voluntary organisations direct their staff and contribute to this notion of ‘the professional gaze’. To this end I have interviewed senior figures in the civil service and more recently the former Children’s Minister (2005- 2010) has agreed to participate. I also engage with communities, ‘getting alongside’ community leaders, practitioners and families to find out how national policy affects them on the ground.

Some of the findings of the research are significant, particularly around the issues of services and their impact upon significant sections of our community. Very often practitioners approach families through their construction of a ‘professional gaze’ which in reality involves assessing and/or understanding a partial view of a child, young person or parent. Many families experience a number of differing practitioners crossing the threshold of their homes, but, as a result of this ‘professional gaze’ these well-meaning practitioners are only able to offer partial solutions to the complex issues these families face. The theory of ‘communities of practice’ provides some explanation of why practitioners work in this way. It is about their training, the assessment frameworks they adopt and the managerial demands made upon them by their organisations and professional bodies.

The research has also contributed towards change in public services by informing policy makers, leadership figures and at more local level practice. I hope through these changes it contributes to improving outcomes for families and communities.

Categories: Child and Family Studies, Research