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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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Quiet challenges? Professional practice in modernised social work

Quiet challenges? Professional practice in modernised social work

(p.129) Seven Quiet challenges? Professional practice in modernised social work
Modernising social work

Vicky White

Policy Press

A growing number of writers have presented social workers as having been turned into unreflective people-processors by waves of managerialism over the last thirty years and, more recently, by the intertwining of managerialism with New Labour's modernisation agenda. This chapter outlines and questions this position before moving on to consider the ‘discretionary space’ within which social workers operate. This space is seen as being constructed by social work's location as a state-mediated profession and the duties social workers perform on behalf of the state, within that location. Next, the chapter explores the concept of resistance and what constitutes resistance in the current context of modernisation. It concludes that, while evidence of a continuing commitment to externally based radicalism is important for social work, so are the opportunities for ‘quiet challenges’ by social workers as they go about their day-to-day work in the discretionary spaces social work provides.

Keywords:   social workers, managerialism, New Labour, modernisation, discretionary space, social work, resistance, radicalism

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