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Home > Arhiva > 2010 > Numar: 1 > The Neoliberal Ideology and the Challenges for Social Work Ethics and Practice

 The Neoliberal Ideology and the Challenges for Social Work Ethics and Practice

  • Christian Stark (Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Garnisonstraße 21, 4020 Linz, Austria,Tel: +43 (0)732 2008-2270, Fax: +43 (0)732 2008-2205, E-mail:

The article shows the influence of neoliberalism on social work and tries to give answers following the IFSW code of ethics (4.2. social justice - challenging unjust policies and practices). Neoliberalism can be described as an economic-political project of capitalist elites with involves the following: economization of all areas of life, privatization, economic globalization and deregulation. The article will give a short historical overview of the development of neoliberalism, the myths and tenets of the new neoliberal “religion” and the „manufacturing of consent” (Chomsky, 1996). Additionally, the article will describe the consequences for social policy and social work, which include the reduction of the welfare state, the widening of the gap between rich and poor, and also a development that can be outlined with the following key terms: economization of social work, work-fare instead of welfare. Finally, the article will describe the reaction of social work on this development. Some necessary anti-strategies will also be discussed. The logic of social work is not the logic of profit. The market must not have the power to decide whether someone receives the necessary means for a life in human dignity. Social Work is a central part of social policy and not only an instrument to alleviate or conserve poverty, or to lessen the consequences of neoliberal policy.

Keywords: neoliberalism, political social work, economization of social work, social policy, social work ethics