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Social workers and alienation: the compassionate self and the disappointed juggler.

Yuill, Chris


Chris Yuill


British social work has been undergoing a series of radical transformations from the 1980s onwards. The main shift has been a move away from the parochial professionalism of the 1970s to a profession that is being constantly reshaped by the impulses of the new managerialism to meet the needs of the neoliberal state. From the vantage point of Marxian alienation theory this article analyses the experiences of 16 social workers of being alienated and estranged from how they desire their labour to be. The main finding to emerge from qualitative semi-structured is that the logics of new managerialism lead to a loss of the object of labour (the service user) by substituting that object with another: the case report. That report requires none of the creativity and skills that the social workers wish to exercise in the labour. Instead it dominates and structures their work whilst distorting their subjectivity.


YUILL, C. 2018. Social workers and alienation: the compassionate self and the disappointed juggler. Critical and radical social work [online], 6(3), pages 275-289. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 24, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 20, 2018
Publication Date Nov 30, 2018
Deposit Date Aug 10, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 21, 2019
Journal Critical and radical social work
Print ISSN 2049-8608
Electronic ISSN 2049-8675
Publisher Policy Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 3
Pages 275-289
Keywords Alienation; Social work; Paperwork; Labour process; Product; Marx
Public URL


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