Exploring how social workers experience and cope with public perception of their profession

Legood, A., McGrath, M., Searle, R. and Lee, A. (2016) Exploring how social workers experience and cope with public perception of their profession. British Journal of Social Work, 46(7), pp. 1872-1889. (doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcv139)

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Abstract

The public's perception of the social work profession is a rarely considered perspective and yet a topic that is a concern to front line professionals. This paper explores how social workers experience and attempt to cope with public perception of their profession. It highlights the impact of these concerns on social workers' personal experiences and professional practice. Using semi-structured interviews with sixteen UK social workers, from local authorities and private organisations, we explore the experiences of this group. Thematic analysis of the data identified four concerns: the experience of public perception, drivers of public perception, coping with public perception, and mechanisms to raise the professions profile. Examining public perception through the eyes of social workers provides valuable insights into the lived experiences of these professionals, and offers practical implications at both the micro and macro levels. It reveals two key ways in which the profession can begin to address the prevailing negative perception considered to be emanating from the public: through developing a more co-operative relationship with external sources of public perception (e.g. government and the media) and by engaging in more pro-active self-promotion of the service.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Searle, Professor Rosalind
Authors: Legood, A., McGrath, M., Searle, R., and Lee, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:British Journal of Social Work
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0045-3102
ISSN (Online):1468-263X
Published Online:13 January 2016

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