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The changing face of social work: social worker perceptions of a neoliberalising profession.

Butler-Warke, Alice; Yuill, Chris; Bolger, Janine

Authors

Alice Butler-Warke

Chris Yuill

Janine Bolger



Abstract

This article engages with literature on the neoliberalisation of social work but advances the debate by building an argument based on interviews with social work graduates that reveal the perceived changes to the profession over the last 50 years. Based on lived experiences, we show that social work as a profession has experienced significant changes that have occurred both internally and externally to the profession. These changes form part of a larger ideological shift towards neoliberalism. Beginning with the Thatcher administration, intensifying under New Labour’s Third Way and persisting under the Age of Austerity of Prime Ministers Cameron and May, the neoliberalisation of social work has sought to turn it into an outcome-oriented, information-gathering, surveilling profession that no longer relies on its critical and radical value base. We show, however, that despite the neoliberal assault, social workers remain optimistic about the future and loyal to their core values.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Critical and Radical Social Work
Print ISSN 2049-8608
Electronic ISSN 2049-8675
Publisher Policy Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Institution Citation BUTLER-WARKE, A., YUILL, C. and BOLGER, J. 2019. The changing face of social work: social worker perceptions of a neoliberalising profession. Critical and radical social work [online], Fast Track. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1332/204986019X15633629305936
DOI https://doi.org/10.1332/204986019x15633629305936
Keywords Neoliberalisation; Austerity; Thatcher; Training; Education

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