Professor Tony Evans

Personal profile

I studied Politics at the University of Exeter and Political Philosophy at York, before going to work in user representation in the NHS and social services. This was where my interest in social work began and I took the plunge and trained at Oxford. After qualifying I worked in community mental health teams in Hampshire and Wiltshire, where I also completed my ASW training; I then worked as a forensic social worker at Rampton Special Hospital. From Rampton I joined the staff at Oxford Brookes University in my first academic post, while maintaining my experience of practice teaching by supervising a group of placement students at MIND. Since then I have worked at York, Southampton and Warwick universities, where my teaching has focused on mental health and community care, reflective practice and social work skills, and research skills. 



My research focuses on discretion as an organisational practice in welfare policy and practice and as a professional attribute, particularly in social work. My work has explored the impact of managerialism on frontline discretion in welfare services. I have argued that management approaches often contribute to and exacerbate the problems they claim to solve. As part of this work I examined policy implementation analysis and developed a critical re-evaluation of street level bureaucracy theory, and the relationship between policy and professional practice nationally and internationally.  My research has also looked at ideas of expertise and ethics and how these relate to claims to discretion in professional practice. My current research develops this work further through: the exploration of discretion as a creative practice and using drama as a form of research enquiry to understand activity-dependent expertise; and exploring professional ethics as a practical decision-making process – particularly through exploring current tensions in adult social work.


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