Angelika Kaffrell-Lindahl (Sweden)

Topic:  “That is so far from what we do” – Visions, limitations and needs of social workers in relation to the issue of climate change
Language: English 

Abstract

As climate change is linked with the day-to-day struggles of people that social workers engage with, it has direct and immediate relevance for the profession. This ongoing study explores in which ways social workers are conscious of, get opportunities and integrate climate change discourses and interventions into their daily work. Through semi-structured interviews and shared workshops, participating social workers get the opportunity to bring their voices together to reflect on their work, the climate change-social work relationship, and to engender consciousness and facilitating change towards a reconceptualization of social work as a politicized profession. So far, 12 interviews with social workers have been conducted. It is apparent that the urgency of the issue is strongly felt in many of their consciousnesses and climate-related adaptations are also listed in the professional context. However, it is also clear that these changes are not seen as sufficient to significantly reduce the footprint, and that the issue of climate change is not actively addressed. Social workers express that they see no scope for thinking or acting on climate-related issues. The neoliberalisation of the “social market” is seen by most as restrictive, as is the increasingly individualised nature of work. As a result of New Public Management, Social workers describe their tasks being increasingly specified, fragmented and manual based, leading to a limitation of their ability to act. They express a lack of both knowledge and tools to work on the topic and call for clear elements in training and continuing education.