Exploring the sacred-secular dialect in everyday social work practice: An analysis of religious responses to managerialism among outreach social workers in Hong Kong

Julian M. GROVES, Wai Yip HO, Yu-kwan Kaxton SIU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

We examine the recent proliferation of religious discourses among front line social workers in the former British Colony of Hong Kong in order to explore the nature of ‘re-enchantment’ in modern social work practice. In-depth qualitative interviews with twenty social workers who identify as ‘Christian social workers’ in a variety of social work organisations (both religious and secular) reveal the adoption of religious identities and discourses to navigate the encroachment of managerialism. A systematic analysis of these narratives suggests that Christian social workers evoke religion to reclaim feelings of authenticity in their work, to facilitate more personalised relationships with their clients, and to empower themselves following the introduction of managerialist policies. We illuminate the dialectical relationship between religious discourses and managerialism to critique claims in the literature about a ‘re-enchantment’ in social work, and to understand the essence of religion in modern social work practice. Copyright © 2015 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1411-1428
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Volume46
Issue number5
Early online dateAug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Citation

Groves, J. M., Ho, W.-Y., & Siu, K. (2016). Exploring the sacred-secular dialect in everyday social work practice: An analysis of religious responses to managerialism among outreach social workers in Hong Kong. The British Journal of Social Work, 46(5), 1411-1428.

Keywords

  • Social work
  • Religion
  • Hong Kong
  • Managerialism
  • Christian social worker

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