Professor Sue White
BSc, CQSW, ,MA, PhD, FAcSS
Department of Sociological Studies
Emeritus Professor of Social Work
+44 114 222 6441
Full contact details
Department of Sociological Studies
Sue joined the Department in October 2016, having previously been Professor of Social Work at the Universities of Birmingham and Lancaster.
She is a registered social worker with an academic background in sociology. Her research is interdisciplinary and currently covers three main areas. She has undertaken a number of detailed ethnographic studies of everyday institutional practices and professional decision-making, principally in child and family health and welfare.
She is also researching the uses of neuroscience and epigenetics in child and family welfare policy. A further strand of research focuses on socio-technical systems design, with attention to human, social and interactional factors in enhancing safety, particularly in children’s safeguarding.
- Research interests
Sue's primary research interest is in the sociological analysis of professional judgement and decision-making with an emphasis on understanding how science, formal knowledge, rhetoric, moral judgement, emotion and subjectivity interact in professional practice, particularly in child health and welfare.
Her research has focused principally on the analysis of professional talk in a range of health and welfare settings. However, she has also undertaken evaluative and applied research for central and local government, NHS and non-statutory organisations.
- Reassessing Attachment Theory in Child Welfare. Policy Press.
- Protecting Children: A Social Model. Policy Press.
- Blinded by Science: The Social Implications of Epigenetics and Neuroscience. Bristol: Policy Press.
- Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol: Policy Press.
- Child protection and disorganized attachment: A critical commentary. Children and Youth Services Review, 105, 104415-104415. View this article in WRRO
- Introduction: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) – Implications and Challenges. Social Policy and Society, 18(3), 411-414.
- Investigating Welfare Regime Typologies: Paradoxes, Pitfalls and Potentialities in Comparative Social Work Research. Social Policy and Society, 17(4), 1-13.
- How do you solve a problem like Maria? Family complexity and institutional complications in UK social work. European Journal of Social Work. View this article in WRRO
- Epigenetics Prematurely Born(e): Social Work and the Malleable Gene. British Journal of Social Work, 47(8), 2256-2272. View this article in WRRO
- The rise and rise of prevention science in UK family welfare: surveillance gets under the skin. Families, Relationships and Societies, 6(3), 427-445.
- Out of time: theorizing family in social work practice. Child and Family Social Work, 22(S3), 51-60. View this article in WRRO
- Editorial. Journal of Integrated Care, 24(5/6), 234-236.
- Communication, Collaboration, and Enhancing the Learning Experience: Developing a Collaborative Virtual Enquiry Service in University Libraries in the North of England. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 22(2-3), 176-191.
- Reclaiming Humanity: From Capacities to Capabilities in Understanding Parenting in Adversity. British Journal of Social Work, 46(2), 339-354.
- A Marriage Made in Hell: Early Intervention Meets Child Protection. British Journal of Social Work, 44(7), 1735-1749.
- Introduction: Munro three years on. Journal of Social Work Practice, 28(3), 267-269.
- Re-imagining child protection.
- Making sense of complex electronic records: Socio-technical design in social care. Applied Ergonomics, 45(2), 143-149.
- Beyond bureaucracy: Emerging trends in social care informatics. Health Informatics Journal, 20(3), 213-219.
- Introduction. Families, Relationships and Societies, 2(3), 457-458.
- Blinded by neuroscience: social policy, the family and the infant brain. Families, Relationships and Societies, 1(3), 397-414.
- Trust, risk and the (mis)management of contingency and discretion through new information technologies in children’s services. Journal of Social Work, 12(2), 158-178.
- Ireland’s opportunity to learn from England’s difficulties? Auditing uncertainty in child protection. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, 12(1), 28-42.
- Mixed methods evaluation of a menu of research learning opportunities for mid-career social work academics with ‘protected time’. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 15(3), 7-25.
- Social Work in the Laboratory: Using Microworlds for Practice Research. British Journal of Social Work, 41(4), 744-760.
- Facts, myths and thought-styles… and a rallying cry for civic engagement. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 19(4), 307-318.
- When policy o'erleaps itself: The 'tragic tale' of the Integrated Children's System. Critical Social Policy, 30(3), 405-429.
- Children's services in the iron cage of performance management: street-level bureaucracy and the spectre of Švejkism. International Journal of Social Welfare, 19(3), 310-320.
- Child-Centric Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Fragmentation of Child Welfare Practice in England. Journal of Social Policy, 39(03), 393-413.
- Risk, Instrumentalism and the Humane Project in Social Work: Identifying the Informal Logics of Risk Management in Children's Statutory Services. British Journal of Social Work, 40(4), 1046-1064.
- Measuring the Quality of Peer-Reviewed Publications in Social Work: Impact Factors—Liberation or Liability?. Social Work Education, 29(2), 120-136.
- Performing 'Initial Assessment': Identifying the Latent Conditions for Error at the Front-Door of Local Authority Children's Services. British Journal of Social Work, 40(2), 352-370.
- Maximizing use of library resources at the University of Huddersfield. Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community, 23(2), 83-90.
- Whither practice-near research in the modernization programme? Policy blunders in children's services. Journal of Social Work Practice, 23(4), 401-411.
- The Descriptive Tyranny of the Common Assessment Framework: Technologies of Categorization and Professional Practice in Child Welfare. British Journal of Social Work, 39(7), 1197-1217.
- A Tale of Two Cafs: The Impact of the Electronic Common Assessment Framework. British Journal of Social Work, 39(4), 599-612.
- Fabled Uncertainty in Social Work. Journal of Social Work, 9(2), 222-235.
- From Policy to Practice: The Implementation and Negotiation of Technologies in Everyday Child Welfare. Children & Society, 23(2), 136-148.
- MAKING AND MANAGING ELECTRONIC CHILDREN: E-assessment in child welfare. Information, Communication & Society, 11(3), 375-394.
- Making Critical Minds: Nurturing ‘Not‐Knowing’ in Students of Health and Social Care. Social Work Education, 26(2), 200-206.
- Cause and responsibility: towards an interactional understanding of blaming and 'neutrality' in family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 27(4), 330-351.
- Communicating misunderstandings: multi-agency work as social practice. Child
Family Social Work, 10(3), 207-216.
- Representing children's views and best interests in court: an international comparison. Child Abuse Review, 14(4), 220-239.
- Looking Inside Professional Practice. Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice, 4(4), 379-390.
- What is child protection? Historical and methodological issues in comparative research onlastensuojelu/child protection. International Journal of Social Welfare, 13(1), 28-41.
- Accomplishing 'the case' in paediatrics and child health: medicine and morality in inter-professional talk. Sociology of Health & Illness, 24(4), 409-435.
- Knowledge, Truth and Reflexivity. Journal of Social Work, 1(1), 37-59.
- Time, Temporality and Child Welfare. Time & Society, 7(1), 55-74.
- Interdiscursivity and Child Welfare: The Ascent and Durability of Psycho-Legalism. The Sociological Review, 46(2), 264-292.
- Psychotherapy without Foundations?'. Theory & Psychology, 8(5), 579-599.
- Beyond Retroduction? -- Hermeneutics, Reflexivity and Social Work Practice. British Journal of Social Work, 27(5), 739-753.
- Notes on the Tenacity of Therapeutic Presuppositions in Process Research: Examining the Artfulness of Blamings in Family Therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 19(1), 21-41.
- Commentary: ordinary misery should not be mistaken for pathology. BMJ, 314(7083), 816-816.
- Parton, Howe and Postmodernity: A Critical Comment on Mistaken Identity. British Journal of Social Work, 27(2), 275-295.
- Not always Suffered, but Sometimes Enjoyed: Power Contra-Porter. Sociology, 31(2), 347-351.
- Regulating mental health and motherhood in contemporary welfare services. Critical Social Policy, 16(46), 67-94.
- Accounting for self-harm: Holding the balance. Journal of Social Work Practice, 9(2), 141-154.
- A search for Nemesis; Current status and review of theory, 87-92.
- Knowledge and Reasoning in Social Work: Educating for Humane Judgement. British Journal of Social Work, 36(6), 937-954.
- All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making?. Social Policy and Society. View this article in WRRO
- Improving practice in safeguarding at the interface between hospital services and children’s social care: a mixed-methods case study. Health Services and Delivery Research, 3(4), 1-164.
- Examining the Artfulness of ‘Risk Talk’, Constructing Social Work Practices (pp. 87-102). Routledge
- Re-imagining early help: Looking forward, looking back, Moving on from Munro: Improving Children's Services (pp. 73-88).
- Knowledge for reflexive practice, The SAGE Handbook of Social Work (pp. 207-223).
- Fabled uncertainty in social work, Towards Professional Wisdom: Practical Deliberation in the People Professions (pp. 171-185).
- Theoretical vocabularies and moral negotiation in child welfare: The saga of Evie and Seb, Handbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions (pp. 259-276).
- Constructions of Neuroscience in Early Childhood Education Routledge
- Book Review: Jan Macvarish Neuroparenting: The Expert Invasion of Family Life. Critical Social Policy, 38(1), 170-172.
Conference proceedings papers
- Make Kitsch the Enemy: The “Monstrous Carbuncle” of the UK’s Vetting and Barring Scheme (pp 105-118)
- The chiasmus of design: Paradoxical outcomes in the E-government reform of UK children's services. 17th European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2009
- The Chiasmus of Design: Paradoxical Outcomes in the e-Government Reform of UK Children’s Services (pp 257-272)
- Research group
Sue is currently supervising students undertaking ethnographic research in children’s services and on professional practice in child welfare settings. She would welcome applications for postgraduate study in the area of child and family social work, professional practice, ethnography, the social implications of technological biologies, or the design of systems.
- 2015 - 2016 DfE Innovations Fund, Information Management Strand – DfE Innovations Fund, Signs of Safety project (value £60k).
- 2015 The Leverhulme Trust, Epigenetics and Society (Co I, PI Paul Martin).
- 2015 - 2018 NORFACE, Family complexity and social work. A comparative study of family-based welfare work in different welfare regimes (UK lead) (total UK grant value to £230,00).
- 2014 - 2016, ESRC, Family inclusive policy and practice (Co-I) £100,000.
- 2013 - 2016 Marie Curie Fellowship, Lead Scientist, Marie Curie Fellowship (Dr Nathan Hughes), NeurosciSocPol— Applying neuroscience to social policy and the law: neuromaturation and young adult offending; £303,000.
- 2012 - 2014 NIHR, HSR Programme, Making the Case in Safeguarding: Enhancing Safe Practice at the Interface between Hospital Services and Children’s Social Care (Principal Investigator £202,790).
- 2009 - 2010 ESRC, Researcher Development Initiative, £90,000 (Co-investigator).
- 2006 - 2008 ESRC Public Services Programme, Error Blame and Responsibility: The Problematics of Governance in an Invisible Trade, £330,000 Grade: Outstanding (Principal investigator).
- 2004 - 2006 ESRC e-Society Programme, Tracking Children and Accomplishing Risk: e-Assessment Systems in Child Welfare £120,000 – Grade: Outstanding (Co-investigator).
- Teaching activities
Sue contributes to teaching mainly on postqualifying/postgraduate courses in social work. She has been a representative for the social work academy on major national bodies responsible for delivery, development and innovation in social work education.
Her teaching is informed by her ethnographic and discourse analytic research into professional sense-making and her practice and research experience at the interface with medicine.