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Modernising social workCritical considerations$
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John Harris and Vicky White

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420060

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420060.001.0001

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Modernisation and the role of agency social workers

Modernisation and the role of agency social workers

(p.51) Three Modernisation and the role of agency social workers
Modernising social work

Peter Unwin

Policy Press

Since the 1980s, social work in the United Kingdom has been increasingly subject to scrutiny and managerial control, a considerable body of literature having charted the shifts within state social work as it has changed from being a ‘bureau-profession’, a hybrid model accommodating both professional and bureaucratic ideologies, to being a profession operating in the context of ‘new managerialism’ and being subject more recently to ‘modernisation’. One aspect of the modernised social-work environment has been the rise of agency social work, a system whereby private recruitment agencies supply contracted qualified social workers to what are predominantly statutory settings. Drawing on literature from social work, health, and business, this chapter examines the core issues surrounding the role(s) of agency social workers. It analyses the nature and value of the contribution made to social work by agency social workers within the context of the modernised service. First, The chapter traces the development of nursing agencies and social-work agencies, the emergence of agency social work, and agency social work and models of social work.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, modernisation, managerialism, social work, social workers, health, business, nursing agencies, social-work agencies

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