Journal Article

Can the Piper Call the Tune? Innovation and Experiment with Deprived Families in Britain, 1940–1980s: The Work of Family Service Units

Pat Starkey

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 32, issue 5, pages 573-587
Published in print August 2002 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2002 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/32.5.573
Can the Piper Call the Tune? Innovation and Experiment with Deprived Families in Britain, 1940–1980s: The Work of Family Service Units

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In 1948, work with so‐called problem families that had been pioneered by Pacifist Service Units during the war was put on to a permanent peace‐time footing and the organization was renamed Family Service Units (FSU). Because no other agencies were prepared to tackle such work, FSU negotiated a particular space for itself within postwar welfare arrangements. This article will argue that the relative autonomy and distinctiveness that FSU could claim in its early years were eroded as a result of increasing dependence on state support and the adoption of its methods by other agencies, including statutory ones. It experienced what Nicholas Deakin has called the ‘perils of partnership’ between the voluntary and statutory sectors (Deakin, 1995, pp. 40ff). The growing professionalism of social work and the increasingly strained resources of local government by the 1980s combined to reduce FSU's freedom to choose its methods of work, forcing it either to perform tasks required by its funders or to face closure of units. This is a case study of one voluntary organization and its changing fortunes in its relationship with statutory authorities during and just after what has been called the period of the ‘classic’ welfare state. The forty‐year period has been chosen because it illustrates the journey from considerable autonomy in the 1940s, to the 1980s when, after painful adjustment to new financial realities, the organization came to terms with the consequences of dependence.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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