Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Social Worker Role in Times of Austerity

Version 1 : Received: 18 October 2018 / Approved: 18 October 2018 / Online: 18 October 2018 (17:14:19 CEST)

How to cite: Sousa, P.; Almeida, L. Social Worker Role in Times of Austerity . Preprints 2018, 2018100430. Sousa, P.; Almeida, L. Social Worker Role in Times of Austerity . Preprints 2018, 2018100430.


Background: The financial austerity policy imposed to Portugal by Troika - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in 2011, led to a tremendously social crisis. Under these dominant trends in Europe, which were felt especially in certain countries, such as Portugal, we feel ourselves forced into an analysis and reflection on the impact of this conjuncture in social workers, especially analyzing the role played by social workers and its critical consciousness relative to this neoliberal model and imposed austerity policies. Methods: This article results from an analysis of empirical data collected after the entry of Troika in Portugal, during 2013. Were conducted 26 in-depth interviews to front line social workers, with the purpose of obtaining a narrative of their daily work practice and with the concern of encouraging reflection on them. Results: Analysis shows the predominance of a maintenance role at the expense of more emancipatory approaches and thus, this results point to the relationship of this maintenance role with the sociological paradigm of social regulation and shows also, how social work is still attached to a conservative agenda. Secondly, one finds a weak critical reflection among social workers, being very afraid to speak out against the system, taking on a submissive attitude and subservient to the policies of social cuts imposed. The analysis then raises the challenge for social workers to develop a critical reflexivity Conclusion: The results highlight several important observations in terms of social woker role and that a critical activity is urgently required to social workers.


neoliberalism; social welfare; crisis; maintenance role; critical activity.


Social Sciences, Sociology

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