Journal Article

Surveillance or Reflection: Professional Supervision in ‘the Risk Society’

Liz Beddoe

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 4, pages 1279-1296
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Surveillance or Reflection: Professional Supervision in ‘the Risk Society’

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Supervision is an expanding professional practice in health and social care. To a large extent, this is linked to the growing regulation of health and social care professions and the explicit linking of supervision to quality and accountability. Links can be demonstrated between the revitalisation of supervision as a professional practice, focused on practitioner development, and the impact of ‘the risk society’, which promotes greater surveillance of professional practice. This article reviews contemporary discussion of the practice of supervision in social work and draws on a small study that investigated the experience of six expert practitioners of professional supervision in order to explore the impact of the ‘risk discourse’. These supervisors rejected a surveillance role for supervision and supported the maintenance of a reflective space as crucial to effective practice.

Keywords: Social work; supervision; risk society

Journal Article.  6748 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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