Contemporary Social Work Practice: The struggles of transforming yesterday’s professional skill set

Neale, Barbara ORCID: 0000-0002-4697-6768 (2020) Contemporary Social Work Practice: The struggles of transforming yesterday’s professional skill set. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/RUCC7806

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Social work is a practice-based profession that is underpinned by the principles of social justice and the promotion of empowerment. It has two key aims; to enhance the wellbeing of vulnerable people through the application of relationship-based practice and to carry out the government commissioned safeguarding duties of local authorities that are informed by law. In order to meet these dual aims, social workers need to apply a body of knowledge, skills and qualities to their work that will enable them to meet the diverse needs of vulnerable people living within the local authority urban and rural communities. Within this study, I argue that the knowledge, skills and qualities have become compromised and this has subsequently impacted on the social work profession. I consider the tensions that have arisen between the values and duties of the social work profession and successive government agendas since the 1970s, in respect to the standards and expectations of statutory social work practice. These tensions relate to both the substantial cuts to the funding of the services in which the social work profession is expected to carry out its duties and responsibilities and qualifying and practicing social workers being deemed as “ill-equipped” with the necessary knowledge, skills and qualities to carry out their statutory duties. I argue that the sequence of government interventions and the findings within more recent serious case reviews such as the tragic loss of life of Victoria Climbie (2000) have failed to consider the political regime in which social work is practiced. I consider, that as a consequence of this, relationship-based practice has been compromised in favour of a government-led administrative processes as a result of a growing culture of fear and blaming social workers for failings in practice. I argue that social workers are victims of "epistemic injustice", a concept of prejudicial injustice that rises against someone in their capacity as a knower. Through the application of qualitative methodology, I will draw on the voices of 12 social workers from a range of qualifying pathways in order to explore how social workers themselves understand these tensions and what knowledge, skills and qualities they consider are critical to carryout out contemporary statutory social work practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social workers; Professional skill set; UK
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology. > HV40-69 Social Work
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Health and Social Care
Research Priority Areas: Society and Learning
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2020 13:22
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2023 14:21

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