Five: Reconfiguring professional autonomy? The case of social work in the UK

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This chapter discusses the contemporary position of social work in the United Kingdom, and in particular the challenges to what is seen as a managerial-technicist version of social work. The chapter begins with focus on the situation from the 1990s to the present day in which this version of social work takes root and flourishes. The discussion then concentrates on three different routes away from a managerial-technicist social work: the first, reconfiguring professional practice in the direction of evaluation in practice, the second ‘reclaiming social work’ on the Hackney relationship-based model and the third ‘reclaiming social work’ in a more radical, highly politicised way. Special attention is devoted to a discussion about how much autonomy the social workers have in different models, but also what kind of autonomy and for what purpose.

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