Many local authority departments have found it increasingly difficult to make social workers conform to their policies and priorities, and in particular they complain about a general lack of loyalty to the agency by many of their employees. What is at issue here is possibly one of the most pervasive and difficult contradictions which makes social work such a fraught activity for the state. For what has occurred over the past thirty-five years of social work’s growth and expansion, with increasing rapidity especially since reorganisation in the early 1970s, has been a widening gulf between the professional objectives and concerns of social work and the state’s requirements for the personal social services. In other words, the relationship between social work and the state has itself become increasingly strained.
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