Europeanisation and English Social Work: The Migration of German Social Work Practitioners and Ideas to England

Katrin Bain, Tony Evans

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The internationalisation of social work is a positive and dynamic aspect of contemporary practice. In England, the study of internationalisation has focused on professional migration from Anglophone countries to England. However, less attention has been paid to the migration of social work practitioners and ideas from other EU countries. Germany has been one of the main sources of professional migrants from other parts of Europe. It has also been a source of influential ideas, particularly social pedagogy, with many German social workers actively recruited to English authorities to introduce social pedagogic practices. The article presents the findings from a qualitative study examining the experiences of German social workers working in England. The study was primarily concerned with what the perspectives and experiences of these practitioners can tell us about similarities and differences in practice between the two countries. While interviewees reported that they adapted their practice to fit with English statutory social work, they continued to see themselves as social pedagogues. This resulted in a tension between their expectations of practice, especially working directly with families to foster change, and the reality of working in a hierarchical system built around procedures and control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2119–2136
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Early online date9 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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