Chapter

Modernisation and the role of agency social workers

Peter Unwin

in Modernising social work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420060
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302827 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847420060.003.0004
Modernisation and the role of agency social workers

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Since the 1980s, social work in the United Kingdom has been increasingly subject to scrutiny and managerial control, a considerable body of literature having charted the shifts within state social work as it has changed from being a ‘bureau-profession’, a hybrid model accommodating both professional and bureaucratic ideologies, to being a profession operating in the context of ‘new managerialism’ and being subject more recently to ‘modernisation’. One aspect of the modernised social-work environment has been the rise of agency social work, a system whereby private recruitment agencies supply contracted qualified social workers to what are predominantly statutory settings. Drawing on literature from social work, health, and business, this chapter examines the core issues surrounding the role(s) of agency social workers. It analyses the nature and value of the contribution made to social work by agency social workers within the context of the modernised service. First, The chapter traces the development of nursing agencies and social-work agencies, the emergence of agency social work, and agency social work and models of social work.

Keywords: United Kingdom; modernisation; managerialism; social work; social workers; health; business; nursing agencies; social-work agencies

Chapter.  6415 words.  Illustrated.

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