Organizational Professionalism and Measures to Combat Poverty: The Role of the Social Worker

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Maria Pia CASTRO, University of Catania, Italy
In the last years new theoretical approaches are developing about professions, mainly distinguishing two different forms: occupational professionalism, as a discourse concerning professional occupational groups, discretion and occupational control of the work; organizational professionalism, which also includes a control by managers in work organizations. According to the second one, the organizational context is crucial for professions in that the organizational aims, the procedures and the organizational constrains affect both the traditional professional autonomy and the professional jurisdiction.

Today most professional work take place into organizations. However, for “traditional” professions (lawyers, physicians,…) this is a step following their professionalization process and the consolidation of an exclusive jurisdiction, while other professions (such as the social workers) have always worked within organizational contexts, and both their jurisdiction and ways of work has always been affected by the organizational aims and rules.

In this period of profound economic and social changes, the organizations where social professionals work are redefining the ways of providing social services, to meet adequately and cheaply the new social needs. This leads to further changes in jurisdiction of social workers, which through their "professional" action should in turn affect the orientation of the organizational development.

We carried out a systemic analysis of the social worker’s role in the management of the recent measures to combat poverty, in Catania (a city in the South of Italy). The analysis reveals that within a unique and innovative national framework on the measures to combat poverty, the effective professional action of the social worker profoundly affects the outcomes locally, contributing to consolidate an administrative routine increasingly out of touch with new social needs, or rather an innovative organizational development in line with an adequate analysis of the current social changes.