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Social work and the shift from ‘welfare’ to ‘justice’.

Bradt, Lieve
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) British Journal of Social Work. 39:113-127.

It has become increasingly clear that the emancipatory capacity of social work has been
eroded. Several scholars link this to the influence of neo-liberal and ‘Third Way’ thinking.
However, it has recently been argued that social work was not only a victim of
these new influences, but that it is also very adaptable to the influence of such new
ideas (Jordan, 2004) and not very critical about its own role in these changes (Lorenz,
2005). In this article, we will further develop this criticism, by focusing on the debate
surrounding youth delinquency. According to Sharland (2006), youth delinquency has
become someone else’s problem. By analysing the role of social work within the youth
justice system, the article shows that (i) social work has not only been the victim of
recent changes, but that it has also withdrawn from the debate on youth justice, and
(ii) that this process is related to how social work is defined as a methodical answer to
the problem of youth delinquency.(excerpt)


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