Caught between a rock and a hard place: Social work in non-government organisations

Ashleigh Price, Stephanie Kelly

Abstract


INTRODUCTION: Non-government organisations (NGOs) make a significant contribution to social service delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand. The purpose of this research is to understand how government policy impacts social work practice in non-government organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand. How NGO social workers apply and maintain ethical principles and standards in the current socio-economic climate was explored. The study aimed to increase understanding of how NGO social workers remain dedicated to the pursuit of social justice
and social change in their day-to-day practice, within conflicting policy environments and the government’s social investment approach.

METHODOLOGY: A qualitative research methodology informed by a constructivist epistemology was adopted as the research strategy for this study. The interest was in exploring personal perspectives so qualitative in-depth interviews were carried out with five experienced NGO social work practitioners.

FINDINGS: Thematic analysis of the research data found that contemporary NGO social work is a practice characterised by a sense of powerlessness. From this sense of powerlessness, five sub-themes were identified: freedom and powerlessness; the application of the principle of social justice at a macro level; professional dissonance; issues of funding and resourcing constraints as a result of neoliberal economic policy; and finally, different realities and a notion of othering.

CONCLUSION: This research found that the social justice element of social work practice may be at risk should the dominant neoliberal social policy environment remain in existence.


Keywords


Non-government organisations; social work; policy; social justice

Full Text:

PDF

References


Abramovitz, M., & Zelnick, J. (2015). Privatization in the human services: Implications for direct practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(3), 283–293. https://doi. org/10.1007/s10615-015-0546-1

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers. (2019). About us. https://anzasw.nz/about-us/

Aronson, J., & Smith, K. (2010). Managing restructured social services: Expanding the social? British Journal of Social Work, 40(2), 530–547.

Barnes, C., & Mercer, G. (2004). Implementing the social model of disability: Theory and research. The Disability Press.

Belgrave, M. (2012, December). Social policy history: Forty years on, forty years back. [Presentation]. Affording our Future Conference, Wellington. https://www.victoria. ac.nz/sacl/centres-and-institutes/cpf/publications/ pdfs/1.8-Belgrave-paper.pdf(external link)

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, 77–101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Burton, J., & van den Broek, D. (2009). Accountable and countable: Information management systems and the bureaucratization of social work. The British Journal of Social Work, 39(7), 1326–1342. https://doi.org/10.1093/ bjsw/bcn027

Chapple, S. (2017). What should the new government do about social investment? https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/igps/ commentaries/what-should-the-new-government-do- about-social-investment

Cribb, J. (2017). Governing for good: The governance capability of social service NGOs. http://www. communityresearch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/ formidable/8/Governing-For-Good-Report-Jo-Cribb-1.pdf

Dominelli, L. (2002). Anti-oppressive social work theory and practice. Palgrave.

Evans, B., Richmond, T., & Shields, J. (2005). Structuring neoliberal governance: The nonprofit sector, emerging new modes of control and the marketisation of service delivery, policy and society. Policy and Society, 24(1), 73–97. doi:10.1016/S1449-4035(05)70050-3

Fenton, J. (2014). Can social work education meet the neoliberal challenge head on? Critical and Radical Social Work, 2(3), 321–335.

Ferguson, I. (2009). Another social work is possible! Reclaiming the radical tradition. In V. Leskoše (Ed.), Theories and methods of social work: Exploring different perspectives (pp. 81–98). University of Ljubljana Faculty of Social Work.

Fook, J. (2007). Reflective practice and critical reflection. In Lishman, J. (Ed), Handbook for Practice Learning in Social Work and Social Care (pp. 440–454) Jessica Kingsley.

Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C. Gordon, & P. Miller (Eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality (pp. 87–104). Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Freidson, E. (2001). Professionalism: The third logic. Polity.

Giroux, H. (2010). Public values, higher education and the scourge of neoliberalism: Politics at the limits of the social. Cultural Machine, 1–18.

Hayek, F. A. (1960). The constitution of liberty. University of Chicago Press

Harvey, D. (2010) A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press.

Humpage, L. (2019). How do beliefs and institutional context influence the portability of political and civil society behaviours among New Zealand return migrants? Journal of Sociology. doi:10.1177/1440783319888294.

Hyslop, I. (2012). Social work as a practice of freedom. Journal of Social Work, 12(4), 404–422. https://doi. org/10.1177/1468017310388362

Hyslop, I. (2013). Social work practice knowledge: an enquiry into the nature of the knowledge generated and applied in the practice of social work. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Massey University]. http://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/5139

Hyslop, I. (2016). Neoliberalism and social work identity. European Journal of Social Work, 1–12. https://doi.org/1 0.1080/13691457.2016.1255927

Hyslop, I. (2018). Social well-being: A radical change of course or soft neoliberalism? Reimagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved April 1st 2021 from http://www.reimaginingsocialwork.nz/2018/12/ social-well-being-a-radical-change-of-course-or-soft- neoliberalism/#more-2608

International Federation of Social Workers. (2014). Global social work statement of ethical principles. https:// www.ifsw.org/global-social-work-statement-of-ethical- principles/

International Federation of Social Workers European Region E.V. (2018). Standards in social work practice meeting human rights. http://cdn.ifsw.org/assets/ifsw_92406-7.pdf

Kamali, M., & Jönsson, J. H. (2019). Revolutionary social work: Promoting sustainable justice. Critical and Radical Social Work, 7(3), 293–314.

Kelsey, J. (1995). Economic fundamentalism: The New Zealand experiment: A world model for structural adjustment? Pluto Press.

Maidment, J., & Beddoe, L. (2016). Social policy, social work and social change. In J. Maidment & L. Beddoe (Eds.), Social policy for social work and human services in Aotearoa New Zealand: Diverse perspectives (pp. 21-33). Canterbury University Press.

Marcetic. B. (2017). New Zealand’s neoliberal drift. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/03/new-zealand- neoliberalism-inequality-welfare-state-tax-haven/

Morley, C. (2016). Promoting activism through critical social work education: The impact of global capitalism and neoliberalism on social work and social work education. Critical and Radical Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1332/ 204986016X14519919041398

Morley, C., & Ablett, P. (2017). Rising wealth and income inequality: A radical social work critique and response. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(2), 6–18.

Morley, C., & Macfarlane, S. (2014). Critical social work as ethical social work: using critical reflection to research students’ resistance to neoliberalism. Critical and Radical Social Work, 2(3), 337–355.

Morley, C. Macfarlane, S. & Ablett, P. (2014). Engaging with Social Work: A critical introduction. Port Melbourne.

Mudge, S. L. (2008). The state of the art: What is neo- liberalism? Socio-Economic Review, 6(August), 703–731. https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwn016

O’Brien, M. (2009). Social work and the practice of social justice: An initial overview. Social Work Review, (1&2), 3–10.

O’Brien, M. (2013). Social work registration and professionalism: Social justice and poverty - fellow travellers or discarded passengers? Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 25(3), 50-59.

O’Brien, M. (2016). The triplets: Investment in outcomes for the vulnerable—reshaping social services for (some) New Zealand children. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28(2).

Popple, K. (2017). Social policy for social work: Placing social work in Its wider context. The British Journal of Social Work, 47, (1), 279–281. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/ bcw120), 9–21.

Powell, T. J., Woodford, M. R., Perron, B. & Garrow, E. (2013). Policymaking opportunities for direct practice social workers in mental health and addiction services. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 367–378.

Reisch, M. (2016). Why macro practice matters. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(3), 258–268.

Ritchie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage Publications.

Rogowski, S. (2020). Critical and radical social work practice in neoliberal times. http://www.transformingsociety. co.uk/2020/08/25/critical-and-radical-social-work/

Sadan, E. (1997). Empowerment and community planning: Theory and practice of people focused social solutions [in Hebrew]. Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishers.

Sawyers, L. (2016). Finally accountable? Social work and the community investment strategy. Aotearoa Social Work, 28(2), 32–39. https://anzswjournal.nz/anzsw/article/ viewFile/222/293

Sheehy, M. (2017). Exploring the disconnect between policy makers and service providers. School of Social Service Administration Magazine, 24(1). https://ssa.uchicago. edu/ssa_magazine/exploring-disconnect-between-policy- makers-and-service-providers

Skilling, P. (2016). Neoliberalism, public policy and public opinion. New Zealand Sociology 31(7), 159-182.

Smith, K. (2007). Social work, restructuring and everyday resistance; “best practices” gone underground. In D. Baines (Ed.), Doing anti-oppressive practice: Building transformative politicized social work (pp. 145–159). Fernwood.

Spolander, G., Engelbrecht, L., Martin, L., Strydom, M., Pervova, I., Marjanen, P., & Adaikalam, F. (2014). The implications of neoliberalism for social work: Reflections from a six-country international research collaboration. International Social Work, 57(4), 301–312. https://doi. org/10.1177/0020872814524964

Stanley, T., & Kelly, S. (2018). Practice leadership ‘on purpose’ – extending the reach of practice frameworks. Practice, 31(1), 41–56. doi:10.1080/09503153.2018.14 40286

Stark, C. (2018). The neoliberal ideology, its contradictions, the consequences and challenges for social work. Ljetopis Socijalnog Rada, 25(1), 39–64. https://doi. org/10.3935/ljsr.v25i1.196

Stats NZ. (2018). Non-profit institutions satellite account: 2018. file:///C:/Users/ashle/Downloads/non-profit- institution-satellite-account-2018.pdf

Strier, R., & Bershtling, O. (2016). Professional resistance in social work: Counterpractice assemblages. Social Work, 61(2), 111–118. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/sww010

Taylor, M.F. (2002). Professional dissonance among social workers: The collision between values and job tasks in mental health practice (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database. (UMI No. 3055312)

Thorsen, D. E., & Lie, A. (2006). What is neoliberalism? Politics in the Age of Neoliberalism, 1–21. http://folk.uio. no/daget/neoliberalism.pdf

Tsakiris, K. (2018). Max Weber’s theory of rationalization: What it can tell us of modernity. Retrieved from https:// www.tremr.com/kyle-tsakiris/max-webers-theory-of- rationalization-what-it-can-tell-us-of-modernity

Wallace, J., & Pease, B. (2011). Australian social work: Accommodation or resistance? Journal of Social Work, 11(2), 132–142. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017310387318

Weber, M. (1946). The ‘rationalization’ of education and training. In H. H. Gerth & C. Wright Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber: Essays in sociology (pp. 240–244. Oxford University Press.

Weiss-Gal, I., & Welbourne, P. (2008). The professionalisation of social work: A cross national exploration. International Journal of Social Welfare, 17(4), 281–290.

Welbourne, P. (2011). Twenty-first century social work: The influence of political context on public service provision in social work education and service delivery. European Journal of Social Work, 14(3), 403–420. doi:10.1080/13691451003706670

Young, I. M. (1990). Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton University Press.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol33iss1id824

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.