Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Social care - overseas

Another snapshot of social work in China: capturing multiple positioning and intersecting discourses in rapid movement

A. Ka Tat Tsang and others

Australian Social Work, vol. 61, 2008, p. 72-87

Significant development of the social work profession has only occurred over the past two decades in China. However, this short history has been marked by rapid transitions and changes that are probably unprecedented. This paper addresses a number of key issues in order to elucidate the intersecting discourses and diverse practices that are operating to shape the development of social work in China, focusing on:

  • challenging assumptions about the homogeneity of Chinese culture
  • the relationship between the Chinese social work community and colleagues from other parts of the world
  • the development of social work as an academic discipline and a practice profession in China.

The professionalization of Spanish social work: moving closer to Europe or away from its roots?

E.E. Martinez-Brawley and O. Vazquez Aguado

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 11, 2008, p. 3-13

Social work has existed in Spain as a charitable activity for centuries. The move to professionalise it began following the Spanish Civil War, when the Catholic Church opened a number of schools for training social workers which were independent of the universities. With the advent of democracy in the 1970s, Spanish social work moved away from its religious roots and became a secular profession and social work education began to be offered by the universities. Following Spain's accession to the European Union and signature of the Bologna Declaration which aimed to create a common educational framework across Europe, Spanish social work has moved closer to an Anglo Saxon model in compliance with EU policy.

Social welfare contracts as networks: the impact of network stability on management and performance

J.M. Johnston and B.S. Romzek

Administration and Society, vol. 40, 2008, p. 115-146

Contacting out of government services in the USA has in recent years expanded into delivery of social welfare services. Collaboration among several organisations is often required to address client needs. Clients such as vulnerable children and frail elderly people typically require a comprehensive array of services that may be delivered through a network of providers. This article examines social welfare service contracts as networks, with a particular emphasis on the detrimental effects of instability. Instability arises from periodic modifications to contract terms such as stipulated service model, performance standards and payment formulas. These elements of instability generate further disruptions because of frequent entry and exit of network organisations, continual staff changes and complications generated by competition for contracts. These disruptions and stresses impact adversely on vulnerable clients.

Social work in the US: sociohistorical context and contemporary issues

R. Pozzuto and M. Arnd-Caddigan

Australian Social Work, vol. 61, 2008, p. 57-71

Social work in the US today reflects the historical, cultural, social and political context in which it is situated. From the early individualist spirit has come an atomistic political perspective with a focus on self-reliance at the expense of democratic public participation. This, coupled with the rise of neoliberal economic values, has resulted in the privatisation of mental health services and the growth of private social work practice. Reliance on instrumentalism and scientism has led to the dominance of a narrow definition of 'evidence-based practice' combined with managerial interests expressed in the concept of 'best practices'. There has been an erosion of communitarianism, particularly over the last half century. In sum, individualism and instrumentalism dominate US social work today. Social work has become a business and for-profit social service agencies aim to draw as much Medicaid and managed care funding as possible, with little regard to how the services offered actually fit client need.

Towards a European model of social work

W. Lorenz

Australian Social Work, vol. 61, 2008, p. 7-24

Despite being more intensely involved in European cooperation and exchange activities, social work in Europe still presents a picture of disunity. This paper outlines the simultaneous processes of standardisation and diversification that have characterised this profession from the beginning. This has produced, for example, the duality of social work and social pedagogy, which has to be understood in the context of diversity of cultural and social policy across European states. Social work's professional development has oscillated periodically between engagement with this diversity and withdrawal into scientific positions of detachment and universality.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web