University of Sussex
Hyder-Wilson,_John_Anthony_.pdf (1.42 MB)

What is the experience of establishing an independent practice within the contemporary social care field in England?

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posted on 2023-06-08, 14:45 authored by John Anthony Hyder-Wilson
My thesis examines the journey made by myself and others from paid employment, usually with a local authority, to self-employed status within an independent practice. I have tried throughout, as far as possible, to uncover the many meanings and essential elements of the experience: both my own, and those of others. Fully integrated within my thesis are the detailed experiences of my research respondents who have travelled a similar journey. I have used a heuristic methodology, first established and pioneered by Clark Moustakas. This demands that the researcher and his or her respondents must have lived through the experience being described. The methodology is congruent with my own positioning as a researcher and also provides a suitable, flexible but rigorous framework within which the emerging story (and stories) can be told. This approach has also been of the utmost value in structuring my research. Moustakas defines the heuristic approach as: A process of internal search through which one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis. The self of the researcher is present throughout the process and, while understanding the phenomenon with increasing depth, the researcher also experiences growing self-awareness and self-knowledge. Heuristic processes incorporate creative self-processes and self-discoveries’ (1990:9). I have used other approaches for data analysis as Moustakas does not give detailed guidance in this area. I have principally used the approach pioneered by Max Van Manen which can be described as an evolved phenomenological approach. My thesis therefore describes and explores the experience of setting up my independent practice from its very first manifestations through to the present. Integrated within that narrative are the detailed and rich ‘borrowed’ experiences of my research respondents captured through 11 in-depth interviews and a consideration of the similarities and differences of the individual experiences. I have let the individual voices speak fully which draws out the themes of the experience of becoming independent in terms of motivation, preparation, the moment of independence and finally, the experience of independence. In the succeeding chapter I have analysed the findings with reference to the literature on the nature of modern day social care organisations, organisational theory and motivation, and have also explored in some depth underlying issues concerning the nature of identity and selfhood and the autonomy of individuals. I conclude that there is a core of selfhood and that, within defined limits, individuals are free to choose their own path. A final creative synthesis draws the research project to a close by considering how all that has been learned fits together. My research strategy has essentially been an exploratory one which aims to “generate knowledge about a relatively under researched or newly emerging subject” (D’Cruz and Jones 2003:17). The under-researched and emerging subject here is about the experience of establishing an independent consultancy in the social care field. My contribution to knowledge on this subject falls into several areas, including what I see as the necessary and gradual liberalisation of the social care field which allowed independent practices to evolve. I also contend that my research respondents had a particular and specific motivational profile which explains why these particular individuals made the move to independence when others did not. A further finding is that my research group exchanged a constricting organisation for a more comfortable one: that of the informal network. I also find that making the move to independence is a near irrevocable step and that, in effect, the research group went through an important identity shift in their transition to independence.


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  • Social Work and Social Care Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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