The McDonaldization of Social Work  book cover
1st Edition

The McDonaldization of Social Work

ISBN 9781138264380
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Based upon George Ritzer's McDonaldization of Society thesis and incorporating aspects of social theory, this book examines the introduction of care management to social work practice. Donna Dustin analyzes care management as an example of the managerial application of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control to social work practice. These principles, put to good use in organizations that produce tangible outputs at a profit, are being increasingly applied in non-profit public sector organizations where the outcomes require intangibles such as professional relationships. The author examines whether the McDonaldization process heightens dilemmas such as cost versus rights for professionals working in the social services. Using social theory to frame her research with care managers and their managers in the UK, the author examines the day-to-day implications of care management for social work practice and questions whether the construction of service users as customers contributes to empowering practice. The book's in-depth analysis of the policy background, implementation and practice of care management will resonate with social workers in other national contexts, such as the US, where the care management model has been introduced.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I The Macro Perspective: Understanding the Introduction of Care Management - Theory and Context: Theorizing social change; The context of social change: globalization, McDonaldization and the introduction of care management. Part II The Micro Perspective: Social Workers' Perceptions of Their Care Management Role - Findings from Research: The impact of care management on social work practice; Consumerism, choice and empowerment in care managed services; The professional status of social workers practising as care managers. Part III Considering the Macro and the Micro: Looking Back - Looking Forward: Care management as the commodification of care within postmodernity as late capitalism; Social work practice in the specialist field of care management; Bibliography; Index.

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Donna Dustin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the London Metropolitan University, UK.


'Donna Dustin’s The McDonaldization of Social Work is, by far, the best of the efforts to apply the McDonaldization thesis to various aspects of the social world. However, this book does much more than that by bringing a wide range of theoretical perspectives to bear on empirical data collected on contemporary social work. In the process it offers great insight into the practice of social work today, its problems, as well as steps to be taken to deal with them, especially those created by excessive McDonaldization.' George Ritzer, University of Maryland, USA, and author of The McDonaldization of Society. 'In applying the "McDonaldization" thesis to social work, Dustin highlights the ways in which the disquiet of many practitioners derives directly from some of the changes that they have been required to implement. This timely book therefore makes an important contribution to our understanding of the nature of British social work in the early years of the 21st century.' Mark Lymbery, University of Nottingham, UK 'A timely analysis of the professional fortunes of social work in the era of care management, The McDonaldization of Social Work is indispensable reading for students and practitioners in care management sectors.' Linda Davies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada 'Dustin has some helpful things to say for the future. She argues that social work should reconnect with values of social justice and human rights, and that practitioners should forge closer links with service users and carers, and learn from and value their ideas and experience. The importance of such strategies at this time of radical change cannot be overstated.' The Guardian 'The McDonaldization of Social Work explores the impact of care management on UK social work practice. Aimed at graduate students and academics, Donna Dustin's book is in three parts: a theoretical context that includes globalization and wider social change; social workers' views of care management, and an analysis o