Steve Rogowski, The Policy Press. ISBN 978 1 84742 448 8
Examining the development of social work from its earliest beginnings to the current time, Steve Rogowski has written a thought provoking and intellectually challenging book. A radical social worker well versed in political and socio-economic theory, the author combines an in-depth theoretical analysis with his knowledge and long experience of frontline practice.
As a former social work educator, I found a chapter on “the professionalisation of social work” particularly interesting. Here, Rogowski looks at past and current social work education, critically analysing a curriculum that he sees as externally imposed and competence based; a system designed, he says, to turn out compliant employees rather than autonomous professionals.
Another chapter on “managerialism and the social work business” examines the related issue of the increasing role of managers, whose values and interests are often not social work based, in making the decisions affecting the lives of vulnerable people.
This book is not an easy read, but I would hope that it is read not just by academics, but by social work students and frontline practitioners who will find encouragement to reflect on and challenge the assumptions in the work that they do.
Finally, for those of us old enough and privileged enough to have been social work practitioners in the “golden age” of the 1970s, Rogowski’s book provides a welcome reminder of the relationship-based work that we used to do.
Ellen Rabinowicz is an independent social worker
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