Of Suffering and Social Norms: Social Workers' Conceptions of Trauma in Canadian Children and Youth
El Skaf, Brooke
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Social workers have long been involved in moral regulation projects. Historically and currently, children and families are frequently acted upon by social workers to govern and shape a morally desirable population. With trauma becoming an increasingly salient topic in Canada, it is important to interrogate how trauma discourses shape social workers’ perceptions and practices to understand the role trauma discourses play in the moral regulation of children. Using critical discourse analysis (CDA), this master’s thesis explores how social workers understand and use trauma discourses in their work with children and youth in Alberta. This research found that trauma discourses are implicated in processes of normalization by framing traumatized children’s behaviours as deviations from social and biological norms. This research interrogates how biomedical discourses and professional expertise are simultaneously used and challenged by social workers and explores the ethical challenges social workers navigate in responding to the needs of this population.