Governmental social work (part 2): three dimensions of governmental social work

John Harris, Makhan Shergill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A previous article considered a new ‘settlement’ for social work and social work education through a critical discourse analysis of Putting children first (Department for Education, 2016). This was treated as the foundational text of what was designated ‘governmental social work’. Here, three dimensions of governmental social work are identified in Putting children first: enactment ‐ changed ways of acting and interacting; inculcation ‐ changed beliefs and ways of being; and materialisation ‐ changes in organisations and structures. These three dimensions suggest the ways in which the transformative strategy of governmental social work seeks to achieve outcomes or objectives within existing structures and practices and, especially, by changing them in particular ways. Being seen as a progressive social worker involves the acceptance of and involvement in governmental social work’s changed practices, beliefs and institutional frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalCritical and Radical Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • governmental social work
  • critical discourse analysis
  • Putting children first


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