Professional Identity and Social Work  book cover
1st Edition

Professional Identity and Social Work

Edited By

Stephen A. Webb

ISBN 9781138234437
Published June 13, 2017 by Routledge
262 Pages

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Book Description

How are identities formed among social workers, many of whom perform complex, challenging and ambiguous public sector functions on a regular basis? Why does identity come to matter for professional social work? This book, the first of its kind in the field, examines professional identity in relation to social work by asking how practitioners think of themselves as a "social worker", a professional self-concept often entangled in a range of relations, beliefs, values and experiences.

Bringing together the perspectives of an internationally renowned group of specialists, the collection addresses a range of issues associated with professional identity construction and "being professional" in the context of a rapidly changing inter-professional environment. It introduces new concepts to social work, including materiality, enactment, performance, affect, entanglement, capital and worth, to consider the vexed issues surrounding matters of professional identity in social work.

This will be an essential guide to all those keen to debate the challenges and possibilities confronting contemporary social work through the lens of professional identity, whether they are students, educators, practitioners, researchers, managers, policy-makers or associated professionals. It will also appeal to those interested in social theory, organisational sociology and leadership as well as anyone working in related fields of health and education.

Table of Contents


Notes on Contributors

Chapter 1 Matters of Professional Identity and Social Work

Stephen A. Webb

PART 1 Key concepts and perspectives

Chapter 2 Perspectives on Professional Identity: the changing world of the social worker

Mike Dent

Chapter 3 What is professional identity and how do social workers acquire it?

Fran Wiles

Chapter 4 Materiality, Performance and the Making of Professional Identity

Torben Elgaard Jensen

Chapter 5 Constructing the social, constructing social work

Elizabeth Harlow

PART 2 Location, context and workplace culture

Chapter 6 Vocation and professional identity: Social workers at home and abroad

Mark Erickson and Jem Price

Chapter 7 Risk work in the formation of the 'professional' in child protection social work

Emily Keddell and Tony Stanley

Chapter 8 Identity formation, scientific rationality and embodied knowledge in child welfare

Melissa Hardesty

Chapter 9 Field, Capital and Professional Identity: Social Work in Health Care

Liz Beddoe

Chapter 10 Interprofessional collaboration: strengthening or weakening social work identity?

Julia Emprechtinger and Peter Voll

Chapter 11 Commitment in the making of professional identity

Stewart Collins

Chapter 12 Professional identity in the care and upbringing of children: towards a praxis of residential child care

Mark Smith

PART 3 Professional education, socialisation and readiness for practice

Chapter 13 Shaping Identity? The Professional Socialisation of Social Work Students

Julia Wheeler

Chapter 14 Credible performances: Affect and professional identity

Jadwiga Leigh

Chapter 15 Making Professional Identity: Narrative Work and Fateful Moments

Maura Daly and Martin Kettle

Chapter 16 Professional Identity as a Matter of Concern

Stephen A. Webb



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Stephen A. Webb is Professor of Social Work at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland. Previous to this he was Professor of Human Sciences and Director of the Institute for Social Inclusion and Well-being, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia and Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, UK.


'This book is a very substantial contribution to the neglected topic of social work and its professional identity. Whilst retaining a clear and insightful focus, this collection ranges far and wide to incorporate key critical insights from a wide range of expert and knowledgeable commentators. This is an exciting addition to our underpopulated literature on professionalism in social work' - Professor Roger Smith, Professor of Social Work in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Durham University