Tumbler in Tidal Wave: The Professional Stance of Social Workers under Managerialism

Hung Sing Lai


Since the concept of Managerialism has been introduced to the social welfare services in Hong Kong, the ecology of social welfare sector has changed drastically. The operation of most organizations adopts a business inclined practice to run their services under the new competitive environment. Consequently, management that is originally supposed to be an auxiliary servant to facilitate the delivery of services has eventually become the master to be served. Most social workers working under such climate find it difficult to exercise their professional functions as they are demanded to fulfill a great deal of managerial duties. Worse off, some appear to have lost their professional identity. This paper is to reveal the struggles of social workers under Managerialism and explore strategies for social workers to live with Managerialism in a way without losing their professional stance through conducting a qualitative research in Hong Kong. The result of this research identifies eight strategies: “reasserting the professional identity”, “realizing the social work values”, “discerning the first and foremost tasks”, “actualizing professional integrity”, “evoking team solidarity”, “exercising personal influence, “performing collaborative resistance”, and “practicing self-reflection”. Since the core of social work is the social work values and to sustain such values demands social workers having a solid professional stance, the suggested strategies derived from this research can be served as a reference for social workers to withstand the assault from the tidal wave of Managerialism and stand firm again on their professional stance, like a tumbler!

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijsw.v3i2.9693


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