Taking Stock of the New Managerialism in English Social Services

Ian Kirkpatrick

Abstract

In Britain, and elsewhere, attempts to install a new regime of management in social services have been continued and relentless. Existing modes of professional organising were criticised for being inefficient, self-serving and failing to respond to the needs of clients. Indeed, for many, the personal social services were ‘…a metaphor for all that was considered to be wrong with the welfare state’ (Harris and McDonald, 2000: 57). To deal with this, attention focused initially on cost reduction and then, later on more radical changes in management. Social care organisations, it was argued, needed to adopt both the practices and the priorities of commercial firms. First under the Conservatives and then, after 1997, under a New Labour government (and a slightly different banner of ‘modernisation’), the pressures for such change has continued unabated.

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