This conceptual paper explores the notion of professional curiosity within child protection practice considering the barriers that can inhibit social workers invoking curiosity. The authors contend that definitions of professional curiosity are lacking in clarity and transparency, at the time of writing we are not aware of any other endeavours to create a definitional reference point or analysis of this concept. Furthermore, invoking professional curiosity is challenging when the social work task is pressurised, stressful and operates within a system that is stretched to breaking point. Drawing on messages from Serious Case Reviews in the UK which identify social work failings in context of a lack of professional curiosity, this paper initially focuses on constructing some definitional reference point, moving on to explore factors that may inhibit curiosity in practice. We cement connections between the emotional dimension of child protection practice, organisational context and the wider neoliberal political climate, constructing these as potential barriers to invoking curiosity. We contend the interplay of such complicated relational dynamics has the potential to distort professional judgement, including enacting curiosity. Finally, we consider realistic mechanisms by which social workers could be supported to generate creativity and curiosity in their practice.
Burton, V., & Revell, L. (2018). Professional curiosity in child protection: Thinking the unthinkable in a Neo-Liberal World. The British journal of social work, 48(6), 1508-1523. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcx123