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A weakening welfare state and the changing professional identities of social workers in Sweden
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2018 (English)In: 8th European Conference for Social Work Research Book of Abstracts, Edinburgh, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Social workers have historically been an integral part of a well-developed welfare state in Sweden. However, the traditional ‘solidary role’ of social workers has rapidly altered due to the neoliberal changes, which has weakened the social support system. This has created ‘identity crisis’ for many social workers who still perceive themselves as promoters of ‘welfare of the people’. This study explores the neoliberal transformations and the changing professional identity of municipal social workers and their experiences of, and responses to, the neoliberal reorganisation of public social work in Sweden. The following questions have guided the study: How has the recent political, social and organisational transformations influenced the daily work of social workers? How such changes have influenced the relationship and trust between social workers and service users? How such neoliberal transformations have influenced social workers professional identity? How do social workers respond to neoliberal changes in and limitations to their professional activities? The contribution is based on interviews with 15 social workers working in different municipalities in Sweden, during 2016-17. The interviewed social workers were engaged in different areas of public municipal social work, such as in the areas of child and family welfare, homelessness, mental health problems and substance abuse and social work with asylum-seekers. The results have been analysed in the frame of critical social theory. The study shows that meanwhile some social workers are resisting the neoliberal managerialism, which influence their sense of pride in their professional identities by finding new creative and progressive ways of working with people in need, others are uncritically adjusting themselves to evolving forms of neoliberal managerialism. It is concluded that the new neoliberal political and organisational landscape of professional social work in Sweden and the retreat of the welfare state from its traditional duties and, thereby, the reduction of social workers possibilities to work directly with service users, make the struggle for revitalisation of rights-based welfare state and solidary social work more urgent than ever.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Edinburgh, 2018.
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-33555ISBN: 978-1-9999205-7-9 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-33555DiVA, id: diva2:1203341
Conference
8th European Conference for Social Work Research, Edinburgh, Scotland, 18-20 April, 2018
Available from: 2018-05-03 Created: 2018-05-03 Last updated: 2018-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Jönsson, Jessica H.

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf