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Blog 6 – British Journal of Social Work lived experience issue series

7 September 2022

This is part of a series of blogs kindly contributed by the editorial group working on the lived experience edition of the British Journal of Social Work.

Blog six is by Ulla-Karin Schön, Professor in Social Work at Stockholm University, Sweden

Being one of the guest editors of the special issue of the British Journal of Social Work (BJSW): Voice and Influence of people with lived experience, has for me implied two particular insights; One is about epistemic justice and the second is about collegial encouragement. The submitted contributions to the first of the three strands in the issue –academic articles, comprise interesting experience-based research in a range from outcome studies of user-led interventions to develop social service practices, to valuable personal accounts of being on the receiving end of social services.

A precondition for contributions to the special issue’s academic articles was that the first author (that is, the person who has been primarily responsible for the manuscript), has a lived experience of social work. In the contributions there are groups of people with lived experience practicing user-led research and in most studies service users are in control of the study. Some contributions are also co-produced between researchers with lived experience and researchers without that type of experience. Overall, this knowledge contributes to harness essential knowledge and expertise of people with lived experience which has, so far been given a limited value in the traditional scientific discussion. With this special issue, BJSW creates a space where lived experience expertise and knowledge is recognized as fundamental to improving outcomes in social services.

In addition to making this valuable knowledge accessible, the process of assessing and revising the manuscripts has deviated from the ordinary. Without compromising on scientific quality, reviewers have, in a friendly tone, done their utmost to provide valuable feedback to stimulate improvements in the manuscripts and encourage the contributors to further develop their texts. It is my hope that we can maintain the scientific discussions in this collegial and friendly tone further, and that the knowledge generated in this special issue is given an expanded space and value in such conversations.

Ulla-Karin Schön, Professor in Social Work at Stockholm University, Sweden