Managing Restructured Social Services: Expanding the Social?

Aronson, Jane; Smith, Kristin
March 2010
British Journal of Social Work;Mar2010, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p530
Academic Journal
This paper reports the early findings of a qualitative, longitudinal study of women managing health and social services in southern Ontario—a context that has been subject to successive rounds of restructuring and managerial reforms. Study participants, all women with extensive practice backgrounds and long-standing commitments to progressive public services, were critical of yet deeply implicated in organizational practices they judged at odds with the interests of clients and communities. The findings reveal how they negotiate this complex positioning within and against the logic of managerialism to find ways to insert social justice agendas. Even as managerial imperatives pressed them to subordinate these agendas, they found ways to extend the reach of their programmes to those increasingly excluded from receipt of public support and to politicize and expand the scope of their organizations' work. By naming such practices and strategies—often experienced in isolation and as somewhat improvised and formless—the study seeks to contribute to the critical literature on social service management. Participants' experiences open up important questions about both the strains and the opportunities in managers' positioning that will be the focus of ongoing data-gathering and analysis.


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