3rd JDM-Conference [09/2021]

International conference on Judgment and Decision-Making in Social Work: "Qualitative Research Methods and Methodological Issues", 20. – 21. September 2021, University of Koblenz-Landau, funded by the German Research Foundation

Internationally, research on decision-making in social work is scarce and dominated by quantitative models. However, especially in the field of child protection, there are now a number of qualitative research studies, in which the practical implementation and justifications of professionals or even the concrete execution of judgments and decisions are examined. For example, the effects of statistical or information technology-based judgments, the importance of professional exchange, the significance of intuitions and affects, and categorization mechanisms are examined. In addition, decision-making heuristics are revealed that emerge either on the basis of specific collegial negotiation practices, such as conversations, or even client-based testing procedures. Processes of the narrative production of a coherent rationale ("sense-making") also play a role. The studies use different empirical approaches such as observations or natural group processes. There are also studies that are based primarily on interview material or on file analyses. Other studies do not focus directly on judgment formation, but on other things, such as the way in which social pedagogues interactively gain access to families and the role that emotions and the body play in this. However, these studies are indirectly relevant to the question of decision-making processes.

In contrast to quantitative studies, in which normative models often theoretically determine rational decisions that can then be empirically tested, most interpretive studies are based on very different methodological and epistemological approaches, such as grounded theory, actor-network theory, or ethnomethodology. Often, however, the approach is not even described in detail in the literature or at best finds a brief mention in the methods section. A collegial exchange as well as a detailed and controversial discussion of methods in relation to JDM-studies in social work will take place for the first time at this conference.

Organizing Committee

  • Prof. Dr. Pascal Bastian, Institute for Social Work, University of Kassel
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Becker-Lenz, School of Social Work, UAS Northwestern Switzerland
  • Katharina Freres, University of Koblenz-Landau
  • Dr. Joel Gautschi, School of Social Work, UAS Northwestern Switzerland
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Schnurr, School of Social Work, UAS Northwestern Switzerland
  • Prof. Dr. Mark Schrödter, Institute for Social Work, University of Kassel


  • Interviews, participant observation, Vignettes
  • Grounded Theory, Objective Hermeneutics, Documentary Method
  • Predictive Accuracy, Decision Making Tools
  • Actor-Network-Theory-Methodology


  • Pascal Bastian, University Koblenz- Landau, Germany
  • Roland Becker-Lenz, UAS Northwestern Switzerland
  • Peter Cloos, University of Hildesheim, Germany
  • Laura L. Cook, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
  • Stephan Dahmen, University of Bielefeld, Germany
  • Catherine Foster, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
  • Tobias Franzheld, University of Frankfurt, Germany
  • Richard Green, University of Lancaster, United Kingdom
  • Sara Henn, University of Wuppertal, Germany
  • Emely Keddell, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • David Labhart, Institut Unterstrass, Switzerland
  • David Saltiel, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
  • David Wilkins, Cardiff University, United Kingdom