The Impact of Welfare Policy on Social Workers: Everyday Practice in a Fostering and Adoption Unit

Miles, Joy. 2010. The Impact of Welfare Policy on Social Workers: Everyday Practice in a Fostering and Adoption Unit. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This research employs an anthropological perspective in the examination of the impact upon social workers of changing welfare policies within a fostering and adoption unit in a London Borough. It is a study of the ways in which issues of policy, governance and power affect people on the ground. Nonetheless, this study is very much about the relationships between macro as well as micro processes. For that reason, it includes an illustration of the irreversible shift from the old notions of care, via major reforms to public sector management, and the introduction of market principles into welfare during the 1980s and 1990s. This research also highlights the notion of family and kinship as a set of ideas that are reproduced in government rhetoric about what environment is normal (and what is ideal) for children. In this context, fostering and adoption have become sites for significant and sustained policy legislation over a number of decades. Thus, the fostering and adoption unit offered a unique location for the focus on the fit between the formal specificity of top-down policy upon the day-to-day practices that social workers engage in. In so doing, it reveals how the redefinition of the role of social workers in the twenty-first century results in a tension between notions of professionalism and public sector managerialism. It draws attention to social workers as instruments of government control and intervention, and provides the framework through which to demonstrate the continually changing nature of the identity of social workers in negotiations of power. At the same time, it provides the context for another major strand of government policy legislation for local authorities that are based on the historical discourse of modernisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Anthropology of Policy, Kinship, Work, Welfare, Gift Exchange, Commodity Exchange, Social Work, Fostering, Adoption, Managerialism, Professionalism, Practice, Social Workers, Black Social Workers, Social Change, Foster Carers, History of Social Work, New Labour, Thatcherism, Applied Anthropology, Research Methods, Race, Identity, Modernisation, Classification, Ritualization. Public Sector Management

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



27 July 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 15:48

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:28


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)