The McDonaldization of Social Work

Greer Nicholson is wowed by a positive assessment of today’s social work by Donna Dustin

The McDonaldization of Social Work


Donna Dustin


ISBN 9780754646396

Don’t be fooled by the title into thinking this is a light read. Or should that be “lite”? This book offers an intelligent mix of theory and practice. If your day job prevents you from following recent developments in academic theory, this book will get you up to date on recent thinking about care management, at least to the level of sounding clever at dinner party.

The McDonaldization of Social Work looks at different challenges in social work and has a focus on the differences between true reflection and responsiveness – and the time they require – and efficiency and cost-saving. Theoretical, practical and policy examples build to a thoughtful and well-argued thesis.

Will you enjoy it? Well, that depends on whether you agree with the author’s point of view.

The author supports detailed service user consultation and adds that service users need to know their rights and have meaningful advocacy on their behalf before their choices can improve. She also supports much of the work done through direct payments, in that it expands options, but wrote much of this book before personalisation pilots started to be tested in England.

It would be interesting to know her thoughts on that direction in policy.

This is not a depressing read. The author is positive and believes that broader thinking about the context and situation and more service user involvement in decisions will improve the situation in future.

Most importantly, she believes that the best professional work takes time and that it is time and cost constraints that create the “McDonaldization” of care management.

Greer Nicholson is commissioning manager for transport and concessionary travel in the London Borough of Newham

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