The role of social support for social workers engaged in preventing radicalization and violent extremism
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHaugstvedt, H. (2020) The role of social support for social workers engaged in preventing radicalization and violent extremism. Nordic Social Work Research, DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2020.1806102 10.1080/2156857X.2020.1806102
Over the last decade, social workers have been engaged in prevention work against violent extremism in the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries. There are scholarly findings of professional uncertainty among social workers carrying out this task, but the influence of organizational factors and support have not yet been studied in this context. This paper fills some of that gap with findings from research using 17 in-depth and two focus group interviews with experienced social workers involved in prevention work against radicalization and violent extremism. Theoretically, this paper applies Cutrona and Russell’s theory of social support to its findings. The analysis revealed that professional acknowledgement is important for these social workers and that being given time and understanding of how this work impacts professionals on a personal level is a critical part of their interaction with peers and managers. Supportive measures, such as peer support, debriefing, and supervision, are also essential parts of maintaining well-being in the aftermath of these client encounters. Additionally, the novel contribution of this paper is that, for practitioners in a mixed and still evolving practice field, these support services may also strengthen prevention workers to remain close to their professional principles and focus on emancipating, not controlling their target group.