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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Sustaining Social Work

Between Power and Powerlessness

ISBN 9781137403902
Publication Date May 2016
Formats Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Social work is a profession under strain, and practitioners report finding the role increasingly challenging. What can sustain social work in these times? How can social workers sustain themselves in the role? How can they derive confidence and meaning from what they do?

In addressing these questions, Sustaining Social Work is a source of understanding and support for professionals struggling with the tensions of practice. Accessible and engaging , it explores the fallout that results from social workers experiencing these tensions, including feelings of powerlessness, responsibility, optimism and cynicism. Drawing on ideas from social theory and the social sciences, it puts forward a model of sustainable social work that will help practitioners not just cope but flourish – even in the context of ongoing crises.

An enlightening, uplifting read in a difficult and uncertain time for the profession, Sustaining Social Work addresses the challenge of finding sustenance and consolation within day-to-day practice, enriching it beyond the short-term.

Robbie Duschinsky is University Lecturer in Social Sciences in the Primary Care Unit of the School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge University. Until recently he was Research Lead and Reader in the Department of Social Work & Communities, Northumbria University.
Sue Lampitt is Principal Lecturer in Social Work at Northumbria University, and programme lead for the BSc (Hons) Social Work.

Susan Bell is Director of Social Work Programmes at Northumbria University.

1. Between Power and Powerlessness
2. Certainties
3. Responsibility
4. Optimism
5. Relationships
6. Sustaining Social Work


This is a thoughtful book focused on the realities of challenges facing social workers. It makes full use of social theory, but is firmly rooted in the issues and contexts of day-to-day practice, seeking to provide readers with ideas and information that will help them to explore the opportunities, responsibilities and limits of their role.' – Dr Philip Gilligan, Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, Bradford University, UK
'Social work in the Western world, the crucible from whence it evolved, is indeed battered and bruised. The critical, reflexive and personalised approach taken in this book, focusing on sustainability, contributes to social work's survival and rebirth in a very positive way. We need it! ' – Professor Jonathan Parker, Professor of Society & Social Welfare and Director of the Centre for Social Work and Social Policy, Bournemouth University, UK
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