LEDGER Shirley_FINAL The Interlopers as Disruptors-A constructivist grounded theory study of Australian social work education Thesis 30.01.23.pdf (3.11 MB)

The Interlopers as Disruptors - A constructivist grounded theory study of Australian social work education

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posted on 2023-05-05, 02:49 authored by Shirley LedgerShirley Ledger
The study aimed to answer the research question, “How are social work academics teaching and preparing social work students for professional practice?” A constructivist grounded theory method (CGTM) was selected for this qualitative study to explore social work education, particularly field education as signature pedagogy for the profession. The Interlopers as Disruptors theory is underpinned by three contributory categories: The Co-constructors, The Field and an Architecture of Uncertainty. It explains the social work discipline suspended within a state of inertia yet, paradoxically, resisting, and democratising practice contexts through field education. The influence of the structural transformations of the global economy has impacted knowledge production with aspects of a neoliberalised curricula preparing students for how the field is rather than how it needs to be. As consequence and, in some cases, as strategy, field education emerges as disruptive pedagogy where students are taught to work from a critical lens that embodies social work knowledge and practice domains to question and challenge dominant oppressive discourses and structures in the field. The constructed theory presents the social work education triad highlighting a disconnect between the social work purpose and values, and the regulatory and organisational framework, along with neoliberal blockages, constructing the profession’s habits of the heart and mind. This triad constructs cultural acts within Australian social work education shaping and reshaping how emancipatory, technical, and practical knowledge influence the interactions between the academy and field.



Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor Jan Pascal, Dr Wendy Hillman

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • Traditional