The global crisis in capitalism and the subsequent austerity measures, presented as a mechanism to ameliorate it, have legitimated a process of state retrenchment and precipitated a sustained assault on welfare provision across nation states. These measures, and the emerging evidence that they will bear down hardest on the most marginalized sections of the populations, represent clear challenges for professionals working in the field of social work. However, they also open up space for dialogue regarding the legitimacy and appropriateness of a variety of institutional practices. This year’s symposia for Social Work and De-Institutionalisation and Social Work with Children in conflict with the law will be combined in a collaborative, jointly run, programme. The Symposium will seek to critically engage with the complexities of how neo liberal austerity measures will impact on policy and practice in social work with specific reference to justice and the implications of private sector penetration
Contributions are invited which engage critically with the challenges, and the opportunities, which arise from this ‘conjectural moment’ from a variety of different perspectives. The course directors welcome papers which critically explore the likely impacts of the austerity measures on service provision for young people in conflict with the law, mental health service users, people with disabilities and ageing populations. The symposium invites participants to explore, in the light of the recent global developments, whether a more principled, human rights compliant and progressive response based on the movements and joint social action to these groups is likely to emerge or whether the retrenchment of state welfare provision and the emerging focus on value for money and the private sector, will further erode the possibility of developing a socially just and rights compliant social welfare system. The symposium incorporates space for participants to explore, from a variety of perspectives, how academics, practitioners and service users can mobilise to intervene in these debates, to ‘speak truth to power’ and develop progressive and radical alternatives.