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Thinking systemically, thinking political: Building strong partnerships with families in the context of rising inequality?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2012
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Journal number4
Volume42
Number of pages16
Pages618-633
Early online date7/06/11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Prompted by findings from the Munro Review of Child Protection, this paper provides a critical analysis of the combination of changes that appear to have undermined social workers' ability to develop strong partnerships with children and their families. Here, we engage with a number of now familiar lines of critique that have exposed the negative consequences of aspects of New Labour's modernisation agenda (such as excessive standardisation). However, we challenge our readers to think more broadly about the political foundations of the New Labour project and, in particular, to consider how neo-liberal policies have in the past and are likely in the future to lead to the intensification of inequalities, thus undermining effective family work. Efforts to deal with excessive rules and procedures, or the revision of performance targets, as suggested in the Munro Review, will not mitigate the corrosive effects of rising social inequality. If we are to think systemically, as Munro suggests, then we must consider the likely regressive impact of impending public sector and welfare cuts and challenge any moves to sideline family support and restrict social work to a narrow focus on child protection.