Reflexive Modernisation and Social Work in Ireland: A Response to Powell

Caroline Skehill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The aim of this article is respond to some of the issues addressed by Powell (1998). It focuses on his consideration of the role and task of social work within a changing society. I argue that, before postulations about the future role of social work in Ireland can be made, consideration of its current nature and the form of its discourses are necessary. I then go on to critique Powell's analysis of social work in the context of concepts such as empowerment, participation and prevention and argue that, by failing to consider the necessarily regulatory and centralized nature of much of Irish social work currently, such an analysis remains merely rhetorical. Powell's reference to the Irish Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics (1995) as evidence of social work entering a period of reflexive modernity is also examined. The article concludes with a call for a move away from utopian speculation within Irish social work discourse towards a more realistic and constructive analysis of both the future potential and the limitations of Irish social work, given its spatial and discursive constraints.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)797-809
    Number of pages13
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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