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Social work has underestimated the influence of context, including the history of the organizations and the ways of life preceding social work practices. It is not efficient to blame neoliberalism or managerialism for all the problems surfacing in public discourse or revealed by research in the field. We could learn more by allowing some of the power in play and the discourses we observed to be analyzed more widely. If we allow for social work to recognize the struggle to evolve into best practices following the introduction of professional activities, we could
discover compromises with former bureaucratic procedures and current local >power structures.

The struggle to be recognized as a full profession probably has also had its costs as far as independence is concerned. Social work has had to defend itself in order to legitimize its development in a municipal domain within social services and child protection. This was done for a long time with only research from the outside, often very critical of social work practice. This research did not contribute to the needed knowledge expansion in the field. The chances to contribute positively to a more sustainable practice can increase through academization of the field. Investment in further education and new platforms and organizations for research and development within the university system could be more beneficial than the old polytechnic system.

Social work has been firmly embedded within the organizations of the welfare state, organizations always permeated by bureaucracy. The developing trend with cooperation between education, research and practice for evolving critical best practices is struggling to fit within the system of target measuring and bureaucratization, a management style probably focused more on financial and legal interests than on social work. In such a setting, research could be more focused on management, rather than on social work processes that help reach goals such as the following: '… to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people in order to promote social inclusion' (IFSW).

To some extent the possibility for developing a less system embedded (disciplined) position for social work can lay within the fact that Mode 1 research is still possible, even in conjunction with practice. Universities and colleges may help to develop a more critical position for social work within public services by enhancing the empowerment that could be released or constructed through more radical ways of working. The new alliance is perhaps possible with the user organizations and other ad hoc groups developing along the edges of the welfare system as it changes. Since writing today also includes the right to have an opinion, I say that social work may experience hard times, but there is something strong and lasting in the task: the solidarity with the project of making a social world, a contribution to a sustainable citizenship in the spirit of Jane Addams. Such an outlook could provide social work with a wider field, one that encompasses users' needs and opinions, as well as practice, education and research that, referring to Bourdieu (2003), represents a counterattack to the worst consequences of neoliberal policies.


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