Social Theory, Social Change and Social Work

Social Theory, Social Change and Social Work

Social Theory, Social Change and Social Work

Social Theory, Social Change and Social Work


Social work is currently experiencing an important period of change - in its priorities, organization and daily practices. This book considers issues of central significance to everyone interested in the theory, policy, and practice of social work.


In the 1990s the perception of a crisis of welfare systems has become universal across the Western world. the coincidence of global economic slump and the ending of the Cold War has intensified pressures to reduce welfare spending at the same time that Western governments, traditional social institutions and political parties all face unprecedented problems of legitimacy. Given the importance of welfare policies in securing popular consent for existing regimes and in maintaining social stability, welfare budgets have in general proved remarkably resilient even in the face of governments proclaiming the principles of austerity and self-reliance.

Yet the crisis of welfare has led to measures of reform and retrenchment which have provoked often bitter controversy in virtually every sphere, from hospitals and schools to social security benefits and personal social services. What is striking is the crum-bling of the old structures and policies before any clear alternative has emerged. the general impression is one of exhaustion and confusion. There is a widespread sense that everything has been tried and has failed and that nobody is very clear about how to advance into an increasingly bleak future.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the agenda of free market anti-statism has provided the cutting edge for measures of privatisation. the result has been a substantial shift in the ‘mixed economy’ of welfare towards a more market-orientated approach. But it has not taken long for the defects of the market as a mechanism for social regulation to become apparent. Yet now that the inadequacy of the market in providing equitable or even efficient welfare services is exposed, where else is there to turn?

The State of Welfare series aims to provide a critical assessment of the policy implications of some of the wide social and economic

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