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The Challenges of Writing Opinion Pieces in Social Work: A National Online Survey of Swedish Social Workers’ Experiences of Influencing Public Opinion

Journal article
Authors Jörgen Lundälv
Published in British Journal of Social Work
Volume 49
Issue 6
Pages 1395–1414
ISSN 0045-3102
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Social Work
Pages 1395–1414
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz058
Keywords public debate, public opinion, social work, social worker, social policy
Subject categories Social Work

Abstract

Social workers have an important role to play and a voice to make heard in the public debate. They can make a difference both by working in preventive social work and by taking part in the shaping of public opinion. Being visible and active in the public debate about social work and social policy is a matter of democracy and participation, and provides many opportunities for social workers to explain different welfare terms, forms of support and new treatment methods. This article investigates the extent to which Swedish social workers make themselves visible in the public debate by writing opinion pieces in newspapers and social work journals. Publishing opinion pieces is only one alternative social workers have for contributing to public debate in society. A total of 1,583 social workers responded to an electronic online survey covering their experiences of active participation in the public opinion. The results show that only a limited proportion of these social workers participated in the public debate. Amongst those who had written opinion pieces, the emphasis was above all on the social workers’ own work environment and working conditions. Some of the survey participants had experienced disapproval, disparagement and threats directed at them.

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