Can Actor Relational Approach be Combined with Institutional Ethnography What Could be the Benefits When Studying Information and Communication Technology Use in Child Welfare?

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Raija KOSKINEN , University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
The need to make use of an interdisciplinary approach is vital when studying the development and use of new technologies in welfare services. There is research that indicates that information and communication technology (ICT) affect work practices in welfare services in many ways. So far the effects have only in a limited way been in the focus for critical and constructive interdisciplinary research.  In welfare services there is a need to communicate the essence of work especially among professionals planning, purchasing and using ICT.

This presentation is based on an empirical research plan.  The research concentrates in studying the development and use of ICT in child welfare units in Finland. The aim of the research is to find out how functional the client data systems are that are used in Finnish municipalities. The question of functionality focuses on how appropriate these systems are in relation to the basic task in child welfare. The research plan has its origin in a small case study in the city of Helsinki. The results of this action research indicate that the use of client data systems may have negative effects on the basic task in child welfare in case there are not enough human resources using the systems.

The theoretical frame of the research comes from the actor-network-theory (ANT) and its critic. In order to communicate the findings within disciplines, the researcher plans to make use of Actor Relational Approach (ARA).  In this sense the presentation investigates further whether Actor Relational Approach can be combined with Institutional Ethnography in a fruitful way in this research.