Media Representation of Social Work Profession in Romania

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Florin LAZAR, University of Bucharest, Romania
Valentina MARINESCU, University of Bucharest, Romania
Silvia BRANEA, University of Bucharest, Romania
Social work in Romania was re-stablished after the fall of communism in 1989, being a relatively young profession with a sometimes contested identity within the general public/audience. Thus, how social work profession is represented in media is important for professionals and service users alike. Guided by the media framing theory (Entman, 1991; Gamson, 1989), which considers that repeated discourses and phrases on a subject shapes the representation formation of a domain/topic within the media audience (Sieff, 2003), we investigate how Romanian online media framed the social work profession over the last seven years. Using ten relevant keywords, a quantitative content analysis was made of online articles (n= 1,300) retrieved in the first 15 Google.com pages. Social work is not the main topic of the article (69%), persons or events being the focus of the article. The personal stories are preferred (38%), over analyses of the policies (21%) or legislation (20%). Social workers are not presented in the articles (86%) and are less likely to be cited within the articles than other professionals. The main topics covered are child abuse and neglect, poor people and the functioning of the welfare system. The articles are about social work system in general, not focusing on an issue, or making recommendations to social problems (65%). The articles are usually informative (87%) and generally social work is presented in a neutral manner (44%) and sometimes positively (19%). Social workers are not the primary definers of their work or/and of the social issues covered in the articles about social work. The social work as profession and social workers are schematically presented since articles lack the personalization of social worker and the general context. The main frame used in the sample was the problem frame - the cause frame and the solution frame missing from Romanian media.