Neoliberalism and social work with children and families in the UK: On-going challenges and critical possibilities
Keywords:critical practice, managerialism, neoliberalism, social work with children and families, welfare state
INTRODUCTION: Neoliberalism, the belief that free market economies are the best way to achieve human well-being, continues to dominate economic, political and social life in the UK, Europe and the globalised world. In the UK the welfare state has gradually been dismantled and become more punitive, the market place has been introduced, and social work has been de-professionalised and transformed into a narrower, more restricted, role. Instead of relationship-based work, practitioners are largely concerned with completing bureaucracy speedily to ration resources and assess/manage risk. Moreover, in relation to children and families, parents need to be self-responsible and, if they fail, a punitive response awaits: being told to change their behaviour/lifestyle or face losing their children to adoption.
APPROACH AND CONCLUSIONS: Drawing and building upon my previous work (for example, Rogowski, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016), this article outlines the neoliberal changes and challenges to social work with children and families in the UK, arguing that critical practice is ever more necessary. Such practice entails working alongside children and families on the issues at the root of social injustice, notably growing inequality in the neoliberalised world. Importantly, examples of what such a practice might entail are highlighted.
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