Biographical interviews and empowerment, from research to training in the field of social work
The contribution presented in this chapter explores the articulation between research methodologies and how there are apprehended in terms of professionalization in the teaching of social work. The author presents a qualitative survey, based on biographical interviews with candidates for entry into qualifying level social work courses. The research methodology is based upon widely accepted methods of empirical data collection. Candidates were interviewed on a personal level about their life trajectories, as perceived through their motivations and choices of professional orientation.
The research questions concern the impact of this type of enquiry on the candidates. Was it a form of preparation for the selection process ? Or a personal thought process that could help prepare entry into training through intimate experiences that they would have liked to share ? Or a form of professional socialization within the process of professionalization? How does this research process facilitate a form of empowerment for these individuals, so as to become active participants in their training courses and in the transformation of the process of professionalization?
These questions need to be answered within the context of two constraints that impose a limit to professionalisation both on an individual and on a collective level. The first constraint relates to the professional group that exercises control over what a profession should be in relation to its values and beliefs. The second concerns professional competency referentials, considered as norms that regulate the profession by state intervention.