There is a growing concern that academic institutions increasingly resemble neo-liberal corporations in which students are being prepared as knowledge workers for the capitalist economy. At the same time, the function of the university as a place to become an educated person is diminishing (for example, the increasing scrutiny about the “value” of the arts and humanities). Social work is not immune to these forces. For example, in a recent article Michael Reisch (2013) decries the impact of neoliberalism on the social work profession including “the ‘re-individualization’ and ‘de-politicization’ of social work practice; the uncritical adoption of ‘evidence-based practice’ and intervention research as cornerstones of social work education and scholarship; and the focus on the client’s resilience (i.e. adaptation), rather than resistance. In particular he focuses on “the consequences of neoliberal institutional arrangements for social work education” including “the growing stratification of faculty within schools of social work; the increased reliance on untested online methods of education; and the emphasis on measurable, quantitative ‘outcomes’ as indicators of students’ performance.

What is your experience with the university as a neoliberal institution? How has it affected or manifested in social work education? What are the implications for the profession? What can be done about this? Is the role of the Academy as a place that supports marginal thinking a thing of the past? Can social work exist within these institutions without capitulating to their neoliberal ideology? Can it retain its important mandate of social change? Can social construction or related perspectives provide a counter movement?

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