Structural Changes in Social Work

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The fragmentation of social work and social care: some ramifications and a critique

Carey, Malcolm (Oxford University Press, 2015-09-29)

This paper critically appraises the impact of the fragmentation of social care and social work. In particular it examines the impact of splintered services and roles upon employees, service users and carers. The article concentrates upon three inter-related areas as part of a more general critique: first, reliability of services; second, relations with stakeholders; and finally, the identity of employees. Despite differences across sectors and some largely collateral benefits it is proposed that fragmentation has promoted inconsistent and unreliable services, the development of superficial relations with users and carers and the loss of belonging and fractured identities of social care employees. Fragmentation regularly spoils professional identities and generates uncertainty amidst attempts to provide effective or reliable services. Indeed fragmented, disorganised or reductive provisions often generate new risks for the recipients of services.

Mind the Gaps: The rise and implications of cynicism within social work

Carey, Malcolm (Oxford University Press, 2012-08-24)

This paper explores the notable rise of cynicism among state social workers in Britain. Theoretically, cynicism has been viewed as ‘deviant emotion’ and pathology or as offering a type of employee resistance that may protect or support a person’s identity. Drawing upon case study research with practising social workers, the article looks at three different case examples of employee cynicism. These include the cynic as organisational survivor, disenfranchised sceptic or altruist. It was found that, although cynicism within social work predominately emerges as an emotional response to structural change, other factors such as those embodied within professional discourses and government or academic rhetoric can also impact. Other factors such as risk-averse assumptions that distance the practitioner from the ‘service user’ or colleagues can also have influence. Although often viewed negatively, cynicism can greatly benefit an organisation or motivate a practitioner to challenge normative principles and promote the needs of service users and carers.


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