04 May Neo liberalism and need of Critical social work
Social work is a profession which works for social change, social justice and human rights. The concept and practice of social work largely vary according to country and contexts. For example, social work in Nepal is mostly about voluntary work and helping people in relief works or emergency situations or from natural catastrophes. Moreover, the social work profession in Europe is the specialized profession which works human rights, social change and social justice.
However, the trend of social work is changing. The same social work profession in initial 1990s and in the recent period is different. The resurgence of a 20th-century idea so -called Neo liberalism which strongly debates on the contemporary issues and needs of laissez fair and liberalization model. These process of Neo-liberalization has significantly impacted social work.
Neo liberalism is a political ideology which aims to transform the welfare state and change social work by deregulation and corporate capital, which encourages privatization and marketization. Steve Rogowski, illustrates an example of neoliberalism in social work as reducing benefits to vulnerable, reducing social support. There was the case of welfare reform act 2012. These reductions have directly impacted the vulnerable people creating more inequalities in society making them more vulnerable. The concept of neo liberalizing in favour of trying to generate incentive of employment and abolishing welfare dependency has left the vulnerable people making them self -responsible and depend only on family, friends or charity. For example; food bank is an example of the recent impact of the emergence of this new ideology.
These process of liberalization has created a more authoritarian model which subjugates the social work profession demanding managerialism with bureaucracy. Social work practice is dominated by managers. They control social workers on what to do and how to do, also by controlling over resources and users. This does not allow the social worker to maintain relational work.
These authoritarian stances are seen in social work with families, children particularly while safeguarding children. Social workers are forced into being a processor ot e-technicians which is inputting data on the computer.
Therefore there is significant need of critical and radical social workers to overthrow these authoritarian, managerial and bureaucratic model of practising social work. Then only it would allow critical engagement with real issues that lies with the social injustices and growing inequality in the name of Neo-liberalisation.