Exploring how social workers experience and cope with public perception of their profession


The public's perception of the social work profession is a rarely considered perspective and yet a topic that is a concern to front line professionals. This paper explores how social workers experience and attempt to cope with public perception of their profession. It highlights the impact of these concerns on social workers' personal experiences and professional practice. Using semi-structured interviews with sixteen UK social workers, from local authorities and private organisations, we explore the experiences of this group. Thematic analysis of the data identified four concerns: the experience of public perception, drivers of public perception, coping with public perception, and mechanisms to raise the professions profile. Examining public perception through the eyes of social workers provides valuable insights into the lived experiences of these professionals, and offers practical implications at both the micro and macro levels. It reveals two key ways in which the profession can begin to address the prevailing negative perception considered to be emanating from the public: through developing a more co-operative relationship with external sources of public perception (e.g. government and the media) and by engaging in more pro-active self-promotion of the service.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv139
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Work & Organisational Psychology
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Legood, A., McGrath, M., Searle, R., & Lee, A. (2015). Exploring how social workers experience and cope with public perception of their profession. British journal of social work, Early online, is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/%2010.1093/bjsw/bcv139
Uncontrolled Keywords: social work,coping,public perception,social work experience,Health(social science),Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1468-263X
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 07:10
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 14:55
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2016-10
Published Online Date: 2016-01-13
Accepted Date: 2015-11-01
Authors: Legood, Alison (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5292-0405)
McGrath, Michelle
Searle, Rosalind
Lee, Allan



Version: Accepted Version

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