Gordon, Holly L (2018) Exploring the identities and perspectives of social workers with environmental interests. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This research contributes to the relatively small collection of primary research exploring environmental social work. The research is qualitative in design and is underpinned by critical theory. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 14 Welsh based, social work participants who all possessed a self-identified interest in environmental issues. The interviews elicited biographical narratives which were subject to thematic analysis. This gave insight into the development of such interests through childhood experiences, contact with nature and rural living. The underlying beliefs systems of participants were highlighted as political, spiritual and ecological awareness.

The participants offered accounts of how social work and the natural environment were connected for them. The rural social work field shaped perspectives which were holistic and anti-discriminatory, containing evidence of structural understandings. Practice involving nature as a tool for individual change, food based initiatives and green work based behaviours emerged. The participants’ narratives are presented through a Bourdieusian lens. Barriers to integration were explored with notions of restrictiveness and disillusionment emerging from a neoliberal setting.

The participants contributed to the development of the action stage. The action stage first, investigated the inclusion of the natural environment in the social work curricula in 5 Welsh Universities. The survey revealed a focus on individualised approaches being given priority with limited attention given to the wider environment. Phase two, involved the delivery of lectures on the subject of green social work in two universities. A post lecture evaluation form highlighted an interest in the subject amongst students as well as a perception of it being both relevant and of value to contemporary social work practice. Recommendations are made in relation to social work education, giving attention to food based initiatives and a reconsideration of community based social work with a focus on sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV40 Social service. Social work. Charity organization and practice
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 16:40
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2018 16:40
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5584

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