Becoming a Social Worker : Global Narratives book cover
2nd Edition

Becoming a Social Worker
Global Narratives

Edited By

Viviene E. Cree

ISBN 9780203066874
Published January 22, 2013 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

This is a book about social workers and social work. It tells the story of the journey into and through social work of people from around the world living and working in social work today. We hear what has brought them into social work and what has kept them in it since. Their lively accounts demonstrate that commitment and passion remain at the heart of social work today.

This new edition of Becoming a Social Worker is made up of entirely new stories. It describes what it is like to be a social worker in a range of different practice settings in different countries. While many of the narratives are from practitioners and educators who either grew up in, or came as adults to, the UK, half of the narratives explores the experiences of social workers and educators working in different parts of the world in countries as diverse as Australia and New Zealand, India and Bangladesh, Ireland, Sweden and Eastern Europe, Nigeria, the USA and Canada. The book ends with a commentary, which argues that social work is truly a global profession.

Some of the contributors will be recognised as those who have played a key part in shaping social work over the years and they provide valuable insights into how the profession has developed over time. Other contributors, less well known but no less interesting, give a vivid account of the challenges that social work education and practice face, and the shared values that underpin social work wherever it is located. Social work is a demanding and difficult job that goes largely unseen within society. We only ever hear about social work and social workers when something goes wrong and a vulnerable adult or child is hurt. Becoming a Social Worker sets out to change that – to make social work visible, so that those considering a career in the caring professions across the world can make an informed choice about whether social work is the career for them.

Table of Contents

Introduction Viviene E. Cree 1. ‘I Came To Live Out Loud’ Gary Bailey 2. Reflections on Mental Health Social Work Kenneth Bolger 3. A Journey from Belfast to London Jim Campbell 4. Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand: An Experience of Cultural Change Marie Connolly 5. A Very Political Social Worker Hilton Dawson 6. Social Work: A Profession That Happened My Way Lena Dominelli 7. Diverse Strokes in Social Work Merlyn D’Souza 8. They Call Me ‘Mum’ Gudrun Elvhage and Pernilla Liedgren Dobronravoff 9. An Indigenous Social Work Experience in Aotearoa New Zealand Moana Eruera 10. Working with HIV Bill Foley 11. The Accidental Social Worker Jan Fook 12. From London to California: A Journey in Social Work Education Mekada J. Graham 13. Becoming a Careful Gardener Md. Tuhinul Islam 14. A Journey Towards Emerging Coherence Robyn Kemp 15. From the Classroom to the Community Petra Matuvi 16. From Harare to Edinburgh Carla Nzombe 17. Can We Do it Better? Sally Paul 18. Social Work with Adults: Risks and Relationships Richard Pearl 19. Trends and Challenges of Social Work Practice in Nigeria Uzoma Odera Okoye 20. Steel Tempered by Fire June Sadd 21. My Life’s Journey: A Journey into Social Work Gaylene Stevens 22. Becoming a Reflective Social Work Practitioner: A Story of a Hong-Kong Born Chinese Woman Pauline Sung-Chan 23. Social Work across Four Continents Neil Whettham 24. Social Work: a Global Profession Viviene E. Cree

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Viviene Cree is Professor of Social Work Studies in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She previously worked as a social worker and practice teacher in statutory and voluntary agencies for 16 years. She has researched and written extensively on social work and social work education, including publishing numerous journal articles and chapters in edited collections and nine books. She is co-editor of the book series, ‘Social Work in Practice’, BASW/Policy Press.


‘Professor Cree has gathered together a fascinating collection of autobiographical accounts of how 23 people became social workers. It makes for an engrossing read, though neither the profession nor its administrative context emerge unscathed. As a piece of exploratory occupational sociology, it is unique and will prompt lively debate among its readers.’ – Martin Davies, Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK and author of ‘The Essential Social Worker

‘This book provides a fascinating introduction to social work in many different forms and in different places. It does so through the narratives of 23 social workers across a dozen countries and gives insights into the motivations and experiences of people involved in a wide variety of roles...this is a collection of autobiographical stories about social work "from the inside" and, as such, illustrates the unique paths into and through social work in a variety of national, socio-economic, cultural and organisational environments...While some of the stories are rooted in the practice of social work, others emphasise the role of social workers in education, research, policy change and political activity. Readers considering a career in social work will not find a blueprint for practice in any particular country or setting in these pages but they will get a glimpse of the challenges, variety and potential of work in this field, while experienced social workers will derive stimulus and may see alternative career opportunities from the narratives presented in this very readable book.’Karen Lyons, Emeritus Professor of International Social Work, London Metropolitan University, UK

'Viviene Cree invited 23 social workers to reflect on their journeys through the social work profession…Their stories capture experiences that span global practice and education; some solely in their home countries, and others across multiple cultural contexts. Authentic self-disclosure invites readers to consider diverse paths to social work, including desires to challenge oppression and strengthen individuals and communities. Writers include an asylum seeker, a school leaver, and a poet survivor of the mental health ‘system’. Many poignantly describe coming to terms with racial identity, class, and privilege…Cree’s collection illustrates the profession’s global roles to empower people and challenge structural inequalities that prevent human flourishing…[Cree] rightly claims that each story illustrates why social work is more than just a series of service positions; it requires strength of character, integrity, perseverance, self-care, and love for humanity – not traits central to all professions. While this concept is not new, she provides insight that becoming a social worker has no fixed beginning or end-points; it is a process through life. Any student anywhere will appreciate this text. And current practitioners who relish reminders about the worth of social work will feel renewed after entering the lives of people who share their social work passions.' Mary S Carlsen, Journal of Social Work 

'These are remarkably different stories, and yet as I read them I found myself pulling together strands, as indeed Cree does in the conclusion. There is very much a sense of 'journey,' and the importance of continually learning and becoming. As we must as social workers, the contributors reflect on their personal experiences, the values they bring, and their struggle against a system that increasingly blocks the more relationship building aspects of the role.' Helen Bonnick, Practie educator in East London for Professional Social Work, March 2016