Journal Article

Increasing User Choice or Privatizing Risk? The Antinomies of Personalization

Iain Ferguson

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 3, pages 387-403
Published in print April 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Increasing User Choice or Privatizing Risk? The Antinomies of Personalization

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Within a very short space of time, the concept of personalization has come to occupy a central place within dominant social work and adult care discourses within the UK. Through an analysis of one influential model of personalization, this paper will explore the factors behind the concept’s current popularity. I shall argue that this popularity is due primarily to its congruence with key themes of New Labour thought, including individualization, responsibilization and the transfer of risk from the state to the individual. I shall conclude that, given its acceptance of the marketization of social work and social care, its neglect of issues of poverty and inequality, its flawed conception of the people who use social work services, its potentially stigmatizing view of welfare dependency and its potential for promoting, rather than challenging, the deprofessionalization of social work, the philosophy of personalization is not one that social workers should accept uncritically.

Keywords: personalization; consumerism; responsibilization; deprofessionalization

Journal Article.  7616 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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