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  • Author or Editor: Catherine S. Kramer x
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Neoliberalism emerged as a powerful force across the globe, adding market-based pressures to social work practice, education and research. Using a collaborative autoethnographic approach, we reflected on neoliberalism’s impact on our professional and academic experiences in US-based social work. Disconnection characterised our collective experiences of neoliberal social work across practice, research and education. The effects of this collective disconnecting emerged in three themes: (1) commodification; (2) compliance; and (3) disillusionment. We offer recommendations on how the field of social work can resist neoliberalism’s effects and encourage: (1) recentring social work practice, education and research around social work values; (2) a strategic use of self to form connections between the personal and the professional; and (3) the adoption of collective impact as the model for social work education and research.

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Social workers face complex challenges that demand practice-engaged research and research-engaged practice. Participatory action research and community-based participatory research span the boundaries that often exist between the research and practice communities. Some social workers argue the values underpinning participatory action research and community-based participatory research align with the values of the profession; however, such methodologies are not widely represented in social work research in the US. This article presents the findings of a study examining the lived experiences of 15 early-career scholars, mostly based in the US, who were pursuing participatory action research and community-based participatory research. The neoliberalisation of the academy pervaded their experiences, presenting significant barriers to their ability to pursue action-oriented methodologies. Review of the international participatory action research literature also suggests the US may contrast with other regions in the world like Asia and Latin America, where participatory action research is more robust. Recommendations to better develop participatory action research social work literature are offered.

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