Journal Article

Everything Must Go? The Privatization of State Social Work

Malcolm Carey

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 5, pages 918-935
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Everything Must Go? The Privatization of State Social Work

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This paper considers the transformation of state social work over the past two decades. During this period, it is argued that a steady yet radical process of privatization has ensued which has had a considerable impact upon the experiences of ‘service users’, informal carers and social work practitioners. Not only does the private sector now dominate key sectors of social care, but it has also transformed the culture of state social work practice and many of the accepted beliefs and ideals of the social work profession. It is also argued that many of the promises made about privatization, including that it would create a more efficient and effective structure for the delivery of social care,1 have never materialized. On the contrary it is suggested that the current organization of social care is highly bureaucratic, exploits labour and is deeply ineffective at responding to the needs of vulnerable adults and children. Finally, it is proposed that, as a political project, the privatization of state social work is far from complete, and further radical reforms appear likely.

Keywords: quasi-markets; care/case management; social care industry; privatization

Journal Article.  8034 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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