Power Relations

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Social Theory, Performativity and Professional Power—A Critical Analysis of Helping Professions in England

Powell, Jason; Carey, Malcolm (De Gruyter, 2007-06-01)

Drawing from interviews and ethnographic research, evidence is provided to suggest a sense of “anxiety” and “regret” amongst state social workers and case managers working on the “front-line” within local authority social service departments. There have been a number of theoretical approaches that have attempted to ground the concept of “power” to understand organizational practice though Foucauldian insights have been most captivating in illuminating power relations and subject positioning. In order to theoretically interrogate the relationship between social theory and professional power, we draw from the neo-Foucauldian work of American Social Philosopher Judith Butler—especially regarding Butler’s (1990, 1993 and 1998) powerful work on “performativity” and its relationship to social work. We also attempt to examine the “distances” between the social work role and social workers narratives through an examination of notions of “anxiety” and “regret” in the face of the professionalisation of state social work.

‘Paradigm shift? Biomedical science and social work thinking’

Carey, Malcolm (Routledge, 2019-07-17)

This chapter examines the relationship between biomedical science and social work thinking. It looks at the similarities and differences between two unique but increasingly closely associated ‘helping professions’. As part of the discussion, the role of paradigm, power and ideological disparities and distinct traditions are stressed, as well as the impact of ongoing policy-led reforms which continue to bring each profession closer together.