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Critical conversations: Social workers' perceptions of the use of a closed Facebook group as a participatory professional space.


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INTRODUCTION: The rise of social media has been associated with the rapid growth in different forms of digital networking, debate and activism. Many studies have traced the role of social media in mobilising people to take action on shared issues of concern across the world. Yet while networked public spaces offer many possibilities for engagement and interaction, the technology also shapes social dynamics raising questions about privacy, professional boundaries and the nature of online behaviour.
METHOD: The development of a closed professional group on the social networking site Facebook provided an ideal opportunity to explore the perceptions of social workers of their use of participatory public space for professional deliberation and debate about public issues. Members of the group were invited to complete an online survey; eleven social workers accepted invitations to be further interviewed and their subsequent interviews were thematically analysed.
FINDINGS: Social workers involved in the Facebook group benefitted from the resources, research and professional development opportunities afforded to them as members and supported the professional potential and promise of social networking sites. They grappled with what constitutes ethical online behaviour, or netiquette, and identified the limitations and strengths of the social networking group as a place to promote robust professional dialogue and action on social issues.
IMPLICATIONS: Analysis of social worker experience within participatory public spaces offers insight into how the profession can develop modern communication strategies and strong communities of practice in line with its professional principles and mandate.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social media, social workers, professional boundaries, social networking sites, netiquette
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Depositing User: Deb Stanfield
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 23:05
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 04:39

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