A job like any other? Working in the social sector between transformation of work and the crisis of welfare

Davide Caslli (University of Milan), Barbara Giullari (University of Bologna) and Dexter Whitfield (Flinders University, Adelaide) in Sociologia del lavoro, 155, 2019. DOI: 10.3280/SL2019-155001

The purpose of the essay, introducing the special issue, is to shed light on the restructuring of social work in the context of more general transformations of work. Social work represents an important share of the contemporary job market, especially in the field of services, both in the public and private sectors (mainly education, health, social services). The article presents the different waves of transformation of welfare, from the ’80s onwards, that have had a significant impact on social work. It starts with an overview of the international context, with special attention to UK context where privatisation and restructuring of public and welfare state services has been most extensive; then it focuses on Italy, presenting the general features and directions of welfare restructuring taking place in the country and their impact on the care work sector. Finally, the article highlights some shared features and focuses of the different articles composing the Special Issue. Furthermore, it points at possible (and needed) development of the research on the issue: the need of new political narratives of welfare restructuring and developments, the need (and current weakness) of the voice of social workers with regards to welfare system in the public debate and in policy making; the link between Street Level Bureaucrats’ practices and social services reorganisation and the systematic increase in the exploitation of labour that linked regulation and privatisation dynamics.