I am beginning this blog having finished my PhD at Stirling University three months ago. The subject of the PhD was adult support and protection (ASP), which is alternatively known as “adult safeguarding” or “adult protection” in different countries in the UK. In my PhD work, I was specifically interested in how policy-makers and practitioners carve out the role and remit of ASP through their construction of concepts like “abuse”, “harm”, “vulnerability” and “protection”. I wrote a series of journal papers at various stages of my thinking (1,2,3,4,5), most focusing on particular aspects of the empirical research I was drawing on for this work (2,3,4). Now I have the benefit of hindsight, however, I’m doing some writing (this blog is part of it) to bring this research and my thinking all together. I’m trying to set out “what it all means” – for contemporary policy and, particularly, for practice.
My over-arching argument is that it is helpful to think of ASP as something that’s constructed – that is, as something that policy and legislation have a hand in constructing, and something that gets continually re-constructed on the ground. I intend to use this blog to approach an explanation of what I mean by this, and how I came to this conclusion, from several different angles.
I came to this study as a non-sociologist: my professional background is in social work. Much of the research journey, for me, was in finding ways of thinking things through that aren’t new, certainly if you’re a sociologist. However, they aren’t ways of thinking that my practice education had familiarised me with particularly well. And, because a lot of ASP practice is about thinking on your feet, and because policy is progressing pretty rapidly as well, I’m not sure they’re ways of thinking that are embedded enough in the field of ASP in general. At its simplest, then, this is a blog about the ways that sociology is relevant and helpful to people immersed in ASP: for instance practitioners, managers and policy-makers.