Public Seminar: “Crisis, cuts and resistance: British social work in an age of austerity” by Prof. Iain Ferguson

Event day: 
Friday, June 12, 2015

Date: 12 June 2015 (Fri)
Time: 2:30pm
Venue: GH 405, 4/F, GH Podium Annexe, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom
Registration: https://goo.gl/glPAcs
Enquiry: info.apss@polyu.edu.hk / 2766 5742 (Emily Siu)

 

All are welcome!

about Professor Iain Ferguson
Honorary Professor of Social Work and Social Policy
University of the West of Scotland

Before moving into social work education in the early 1990s, Profession Iain Ferguson worked for fifteen years as a community worker and social worker in a range of different settings in the West of Scotland, including area teams, a group work project and a psychiatric hospital. His main research interests are in the areas of mental health, managerialism in social work, international social work and also the radical social work tradition. He has published widely in these areas, notably Reclaiming Social Work: Challenging Neoliberalism and Promoting Social Justice (Sage, 2008) and Radical Social Work in Practice (with Rona Woodward) (Policy Press, 2009). He is now a co-editor of Critical and Radical Social Work: an International Journal http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/crsw and a founder member of the Social Work Action Network and currently sit on the SWAN National Steering Committee (www.socialworkfuture.org ).

about the Public Seminar
Crisis, cuts and resistance: British social work in an age of austerity

This paper will assess the prospects for social work in the UK in the wake of a General Election in May 2015 which saw the return of a majority Conservative Government, a crushing victory for the Scottish National Party over the Labour Party in Scotland, and the emergence of the right-wing populist UK Independence Party as the third biggest party in England (in terms of votes cast). The election result will undoubtedly lead to an intensification of the austerity policies implemented since 2010 by the previous Coalition Government which have profoundly reshaped the British welfare state and which have had huge implications both for those who use social work services and for those who work in them. These policies followed almost two decades in which the nature of social work in the UK had already been transformed through the application of a New Public Management ideology of marketization, managerialism and consumerism. The first half of this paper will identify some of the key features of contemporary social work in the UK in the wake of these two transformations. After this rather bleak introduction, the second half of the paper will identify three ‘resources of hope’ for the future of social work. These are firstly, examples of good practice which survive despite the difficult economic and political climate; secondly, examples of the collective defence of services and resistance to cuts and closures by workers and service users; and thirdly, the emergence of a new social work radicalism, not only in Britain but globally, which is often linked to social movements and which offers a very different version of social work to the dominant neoliberal model.