The Social Work Business: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Social Work Business

1st Edition

By John Harris


240 pages

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pub: 2002-09-26
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Social work has become a business. The traditional distinction drawn between social work as a non-commercial activity in the public and voluntary sectors of the welfare state and private commercial activities driven by the market's profit motive has largely disappeared. In The Social Work Business John Harris addresses the introduction and consolidation of business thinking and ways of operating in social work and considers the consequences for service users, carers, voluntary organisations and social workers.

The book traces the development of the social work business from its establishment under Thatcherism to its modernisation under New Labour. It looks in detail at the use of capitalist sector methods - the heightened use of surveillance, the increase in managerial control, changes in work practices - and how this is being reflected in social work education.

The Social Work Business provides a radical reappraisal of the far-reaching changes the profession has undergone. The sources of uneasiness experienced by many social workers, faced with a transformation in the organisational culture in which they work, are thrown into sharp relief and opened up for debate.


'This book seems to tackle many important issues relating to social work today. … As social work develops in the future, I would like to see a second edition of the book, which surely will follow.' - European Journal of Social Work

'a timely and thorough critical appraisal of how the business of culture has shifted the nature of social work so fundamentally in the UK over the last 25 years' - Journal of Social Work

'an important contribution to the literature, which brings together in one place significant material that both students adn teachers will find invaluable.' - Journal of Social Work

Table of Contents

1. Doing the Business 2. Before the Business Era 3. Establishing the Business 4. Running the Business 5. Modernising the Business 6. Learning the Business 7. The Customer Base 8. The Supply Chain 9. Seeing Through the Social Work Business

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery