Social work in movement: marketisation, differentiation and managerial performativity in Sweden and England

Chandler, John, Bell, Linda, Berg, Elisabeth and Barry, Jim (2015) Social work in movement: marketisation, differentiation and managerial performativity in Sweden and England. International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice, 3 (3) . pp. 109-117. ISSN 2332-6832 [Article] (doi:10.13189/ijrh.2015.030302)

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This article considers the changing nature of social work in England and Sweden in the context of neoliberal reforms, and the consequences of the ongoing shifts to marketisation and differentiation, managerialism and performativity. Drawing on secondary sources and some interview data from English and Swedish social workers, the article argues that social workers in England and Sweden face similar shifts as marketisation, differentiation, managerialism and its related performativity reshape the occupation, all related to the influence of the macro-context of neoliberalism. ‘Evidence based practice’ has become elevated as an important approach in line with increasing managerialism and performativity, affecting micro processes of everyday working life. Differences between the two countries lie largely in the timing of reforms and how social workers respond to them in organised ways – through mobilisation within the profession in England and through trades unions and local authorities in Sweden. The changes create uncertainty for social workers; while they are not merely passive victims of change they face difficult conditions in which to forge alternative models of professional practice. Contrary to what might have been expected, given the different social, political and historical legacies in Sweden and England of social democracy and liberalism respectively, comparing the social work occupation in these two countries finds many more similarities than differences in how marketisation, differentiation, managerialism and performativity impact on the occupation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Social Work, Sweden, England, Marketisation, Performativity, Managerialism, Identities
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning
Item ID: 17375
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Depositing User: Linda Bell
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2015 09:49
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2021 13:53

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