Social Theory, Performativity and Professional Power—A Critical Analysis of Helping Professions in England
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractDrawing from interviews and ethnographic research, evidence is provided to suggest a sense of "anxiety" and "regret" amongst state social workers and case managers working on the "front-line" within local authority social service departments. There have been a number of theoretical approaches that have attempted to ground the concept of "power" to understand organizational practice though Foucauldian insights have been most captivating in illuminating power relations and subject positioning. In order to theoretically interrogate the relationship between social theory and professional power, we draw from the neo-Foucauldian work of American Social Philosopher Judith Butler—especially regarding Butler's (1990, 1993 and 1998) powerful work on "performativity" and its relationship to social work. We also attempt to examine the "distances" between the social work role and social workers narratives through an examination of notions of "anxiety" and "regret" in the face of the professionalisation of state social work.
CitationPowell, J. L., & Carey, M. (2007). Social theory, performativity and professional power: A critical analysis of helping professions in England. Human Affairs, 17(1), 78-94