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Public perception of social work and social workers in New Zealand

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Abstract

There have been limited studies that have looked at how the public perceive social workers and the profession of social work. This study reports results of a telephone survey in which 386 members of the public in Aotearoa New Zealand were asked about their beliefs and impressions about social work and social workers. Study findings demonstrate that members of the public surveyed appeared relatively well informed about what social workers do, and were generally positive in their views.
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... The field of social work has long been concerned about public perception of the profession (Condie et al., 1978;Dennison et al., 2007;LeCroy & Stinson, 2004;Legood et al., 2016;Sharpley, 1986). Although the public in the US has a fairly positive view of social workers, when researchers examine the nuances of public perception, there is a continuing public misperception of the scope of social work as being somewhat narrowly focused on direct practice types of roles (Argüello et al., 2018;Condie et al., 1978;LeCroy & Stinson, 2004;Staniforth et al., 2014). This in turn may impact the number of students enrolling in macro-practice concentrations. ...
... Over the years there have been several studies of the public perceptions of social work, with more attention on public perception by researchers outside of the U.S. (Kagan, 2016;Staniforth et al., 2014). The three main contemporary studies of the general public's perception of social work in the U.S. are Condie and colleagues' 1978 study, a study by LeCroy and Stinson in 2004, and a follow-up study to LeCroy and Stinson (2004) by Argüello andcolleagues in 2018. ...
... We developed a 20-item questionnaire informed by past studies of the perception of social work, particularly LeCroy and Stinson (2004) and Staniforth et al. (2014), though we included additional items as well. The survey consisted of Likert scales, multiple-choice questions, short response questions and the collection of demographic data. ...
Article
This study provides an updated understanding of the public’s perception of social work in a Midwestern U. S. context, with an emphasis on how the public views macro practice as part of the scope of the profession, the tasks of social workers, and an exploration of the factors associated with attitudes about social workers. Findings suggest a positive perception of social work as a helping profession. While respondents reported a greater awareness of the comprehensive nature of social work roles, including macro-practice roles, than previous studies, participants still reflected a lack of knowledge around about some of the specific tasks that social workers perform.
... The system of social work regulation was adopted in Aotearoa New Zealand in some respects because of the positioning of social work within a risk paradigm (K. Healy, 2009;Webb, 2006) by the public, state and profession (for example, Brown, 2000), which has been focused upon by the media (past and currently) (for example, Stanfield & Beddoe, 2013;Staniforth & Beddoe, 2017;Staniforth et al., 2014), promulgating that social workers can damage people's lives and lack practice and professional ethical competence. This problematisation and concern reinforced arguments for regulation. ...
... However, the state and public were losing their faith in professions during this period. The media influenced the public perception of social workers with a focus on more newsworthy bad practice (Brown, 2000;Staniforth et al., 2014). Political scapegoating of the profession also influenced public perception of the profession with statements made by politicians and others attacking the capability of social workers and tertiary programmes of social work education (Bennett, 2013, in Beddoe, 2014Ryan, 2015). ...
... Henderson & O'Donoghue, 2013;Hutchings, 2008;Lonne & Duke, 2009;McKinley, 2006;McNabb, 2014;O'Brien, 2013;O'Donoghue, 2007O'Donoghue, , 2013Pakura, 2006;Pitt, 2005;Rennie, 2004Rennie, , 2013Sin, Fong, & Momin, 2007;P. Smith, 2013;Staniforth, Fouche & Beddoe, 2014;van Heugten, 2011). However, the Aotearoa New Zealand social work professionalisation project, and critical consideration of the sociocultural, political, and economic dimensions of the regulation outcome, have not been researched or comprehensively documented. ...
Thesis
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In the social work profession, we dream of contributing towards a better, fairer, civil society. In this research I explore the professionalisation and regulation of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand specifically considering the question “In what ways have political, sociocultural and economic dimensions impacted on the development and initial implementation of the Social Workers Registration Act (SWRA) 2003?” A sociological lens was utilised to frame the forces that contributed to the problematising of social work professionalisation and the determining of the need for registration. I employed a qualitative realist research methodology, conducting qualitative interviews with 22 participants. Archival data from Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) and the Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) as well as policy documents were collected and analysed as the second data set. The archival research demonstrates that the professionalisation project commenced around the same time as the development of the first tertiary social work qualification. Alongside this, the instigation of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers in 1964 connected social workers and formalised international links. Social work as an occupation strengthened with employers increasingly establishing social work roles. An indigenous cultural awakening in Aotearoa New Zealand, in the 1960s and 1970s, strengthened indigenous critical voices to spearhead challenges regarding institutional and personal racism in the social services sector. By the 1980s and 1990s, social workers were challenged to respond to issues of elitism, sexism, and racism within their professional association and work places, as well as personally. Relationships between Māori and Tauiwi (non- Māori living in Aotearoa New Zealand) moved to a more equitable footing within the professional body and, with this, a returning focus on registration was agreed upon in the social work sector. From the 1990s, a perfect storm of coalescing forces led to the development and passing of the SWRA 2003, providing an option for social workers to register. Consideration is given to the part played by a range of key actors in the neoliberal, market-driven environment that the project was anchored within. To implement the enabling legislation, the inaugural Board established by section 97 of the SWRA 2003, was required to consult with the complex sector and develop the policies and practices for registration within a very limited timeframe. Inevitable conflicts between stakeholders and the Board surfaced and decision making and compromise to ensure responsiveness to stakeholders and meet the purposes of the legislation was required. The Aotearoa New Zealand registration history provides a unique response to risk-averse environments, reflecting tensions between prescriptive state regulation and professional autonomy. Risks to the profession of Aotearoa New Zealand’s version of social worker registration are considered. The thesis concludes that while social worker registration has played a role in strengthening the professionalism of social work and enhanced social work’s claim to the professional domain, caution and care are required to ensure the vision of social work’s role in promoting civil society is not undermined by increasingly prescriptive state regulation that blames organisational and systemic failings on individual practitioners. Through the provision of this historical research, lessons may be considered for future social work regulation developments. Recommendations include that future research projects consider the impact of both voluntary and mandatory state regulation with regard to protection of the public, as well as on the profession, educators, and practitioners with specific consideration of the intersection of their gender, ethnicity, age, and region. It is also recommended that the Board, in collaboration with the sector, develop frameworks that assert the rights of indigenous service users and practitioners that are fundamental to addressing systemic as well as individual responsibility to tangata whenua. Further, it is recommended that systemic and organisational responsibilities be accounted for in regulatory framework developments, so that accountability for practice decisions can be considered in a holistic manner. The social work profession is encouraged to strengthen its place and space in the Bourdieusian field of social work. Aligning with this, it is recommended that the responsibility for appointment of Board members be shared by the state with the social work sector to reduce the risk of state capture of the profession. Finally, it is recommended that current levels of investment in social work education be challenged to ensure that educators have capacity required to promote and instill critical consciousness in graduating social workers.
... Gaidas varētu skaidrot kā indivīda uzskatus, kas veidojušies, apvienojot indivīda zināšanas un pieredzi par notikumiem, kuri varētu notikt nākotnē. 19 Gaidām var būt gan pozitīvas, gan negatīvas iezīmes, tās var būt gan pamatotas, gan nepamatotas. Gaidām neapstiprinoties, rodas vilšanās, dusmas, neapmierinātība. ...
Chapter
Rīgas Stradiņa universitātē maģistra darba izstrādes gaitā veiktā pētījuma “Iedzīvotāju un pašvaldības deputātu gaidas no sociālajiem darbiniekiem” mērķis bija izpētīt iedzīvotāju un pašvaldības deputātu gaidas no sociālajiem darbiniekiem. Balstoties uz 2016. gadā Jaunzēlandē veikto Barbaras Stenifortas (Barbara Staniforth), Lizas Bedo (Liz Beddoe) un Kelsijas Dīnas (Kelsey Deane) pētījumu, kurā sabiedrības izpratne par sociālo darbu tika salīdzināta ar to, ko sociālie darbinieki gaida no sabiedrības izpratnē par sociālo darbu un sociālajiem darbiniekiem, tika pētīts sociālo darbinieku viedoklis par to, kādas, pēc viņu domām, ir iedzīvotāju un deputātu gaidas no sociālajiem darbiniekiem. Pētījums notika no 2018. gada marta līdz maijam maģistra darba ietvaros (autore – sociālā darba maģistre un izglītības zinātņu maģistre Evija Rutmane, vadītāja – sociālā darba maģistre Marika Lotko). Vienā pašvaldībā tika aptaujāti 97 pašvaldības iedzīvotāji, septiņi novada sociālā dienesta sociālie darbinieki, kā arī notika padziļinātas intervijas ar pieciem pašvaldības deputātiem. Iegūtie rezultāti liecina, ka gan pašvaldības deputātiem, gan novada iedzīvotājiem ir neadekvātas, nerealizējamas gaidas no sociālajiem darbiniekiem, tomēr sociālo darbinieku veikums tiek vērtēts pozitīvi un atzīts par sabiedrībai nozīmīgu. Savukārt sociālo darbinieku aptaujas rezultāti liecina, ka viņi uzskata, ka iedzīvotāji un pašvaldības deputāti sociālo darbinieku veikumu vērtē negatīvāk, nekā tas ir realitātē.
... This view of social service workers as helpers appears consistent in settings across the globe. Studies in New Zealand and Scotland show that the public associates social service work with the concept of care, particularly as it relates to children (Staniforth et al., 2014(Staniforth et al., , 2016McCulloch & Webb, 2020). In Turkey, the public perceives the field as working primarily with children and the elderly, along with a wide range of other communities. ...
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