Professional Identity versus organisational role: A balancing act for newly qualified social workers

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only

Abstract

Little is known about how neo-conservativism impacts experiences of professional identity, especially for those in the early stages of their career. In Australia, neo-conservative ideology places greater emphasis on competence and technical rational work, leading to an increase in generic based job-roles such as caseworker. This presentation explores how seventeen Australian newly qualified social workers experienced professional identity within organisations and roles characterised by such trends. A qualitative study was undertaken, where each participant completed three interviews over the first twelve months post-qualification. This paper reports on a subset of the data, which revealed how participants emerged from study to navigate and balance professional identity with their organisational identity, especially role duties.

Throughout the year, most of the participants were employed in generic job-roles. For many of the participants, this raised immediate tensions and concerns about the visibility of their professional identity and potential impacts on their growth and development. There were also concerns about administrative demands and a lack of understanding about social work. Participants described ways of expressing their professional identity to help them to navigate and strengthen a commitment to their social work values and foster professional identity.

Participants’ stories indicate small powerful acts that can contribute towards fostering professional identity within neo-conservative environments. The findings prompt reflection on how social workers and educators develop and sustain distinct and visible professional identities based on the value and ethical base of social work. Further research and dialogue is needed to expand on the findings, including how to prepare graduates for professional identity challenges they may face in neo-conservative environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018 - Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 04 Jul 201807 Jul 2018
https://www.swsd2018.org/programme/programme-overview/ (program)

Conference

ConferenceJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018
Abbreviated titleEnvironmental and Community Sustainability: Human Solutions in Evolving Societies
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period04/07/1807/07/18
Internet address

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    Moorhead, B. (2018). Professional Identity versus organisational role: A balancing act for newly qualified social workers. Paper presented at Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018, Dublin, Ireland.