Posts By / Jonathan Parker

New paper published for Bournemouth Professor and former student!

It’s my great pleasure to announce our latest paper published with former BU student, Kelly Veasey, now undertaking her master’s in International Social Policy at the University of Kent and working part-time for Citizen’s Advice. It is published, Open Access, in the Journal of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences. (

The paper ‘Welfare conditionality, sanctions and homelessness: meanings made by homeless support workers’ is of great relevance in these days of continued austerity compounded by the pandemic. Based on Kelly’s undergraduate research, the open access paper explores homeless-support workers’ perceptions of homeless welfare recipients and their experiences of navigating new conditions placed upon them by UK welfare reform. It examines support workers’ views of the most punitive feature of the welfare system, sanctions, on those recipients. In 2012, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government introduced the largest and most radical overhaul of the UK benefit system, significantly increasing the level of conditionality and sanctions for noncompliance, part of a shift in welfare, suggesting that rights must be balanced by responsibility and the “culture of worklessness” and “benefit dependency” should be addressed. We reviewed welfare reforms in the UK and the increased use of sanctions as part of welfare conditionality. Data were collected from eight semi-structured interviews taking place in five housing support groups in the South East and South West of England in 2019–2020. Findings from our study indicate that the government’s reforms serve as a disciplinary measure for the poor, reinforcing inequality and social marginalization. To mitigate the effects would require a comprehensive review of universal credit prior to its full rollout to claimants. While welfare conditionality, welfare reform and homeless are well-researched in the UK, this paper fills a gap in research concerning the experiences of those working in housing support agencies working with homeless people in the UK.

The full text is accessible by following this link DOI 10.1108/JHASS-12-2020-0213.

BU Professor publishes sixth edition of bestselling book ‘Social Work Practice’!

I am pleased to say that the sixth edition of my book Social Work Practice has now been published. It is with grateful thanks to all former students and people who have received social work services that this has been possible.

I’ve updated this edition looking to the future and developing a more green and relation-based approach to social work that challenges the neoliberal narrative that has infected social work in the UK (England in particular) for so long. Developing the thinking and skills of an ethnographer are also important to becoming a questioning, critical and reflexive social worker who takes nothing for granted. Becoming an iconoclast, in this way, is also part of this book’s message.


New paper concerning COVID-19 and Advance Decisions by Bournemouth academics

Mike Lyne and Prof Jonathan Parker of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work and Centre for Seldom Heard Voices have published new research arguing for clarity and greater knowledge of Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment as a means of increasing respect for people’s wishes at a time of urgency and uncertainty.

The full paper can be found on the Emerald Insight pages for advanced publication:

Lyne, M. and Parker, J. (2020), “From Ovid to COVID: the metamorphosis of advanced decisions to refuse treatment into a safeguarding issue”, The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

New paper for BU professor!

Jonathan Parker, Professor of Society and Social Welfare has a new paper published today in the Journal of Comparative Social Work.


The paper explores the ambivalent position social work enjoys as both a needed public service and a hated interference in private life. The utility of this ambivalence is manifest in the blame attached to social workers, rather than other professionals, when things go wrong. Social work fulfills a need in society that goes deeper than the surface-level aspects of helping and supporting. It offers a useful scapegoat to detract from wider political and governmental failings.


The paper is published under a creative commons license and can be accessed following this link

New paper by Assoc Prof Dr Jayne Caudwell



Congratulations to Associate Professor Dr Jayne Caudwell of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work and Centre for Seldom Heard Voices who has published new research on transgender and non-binary swimming and sociologies of space and safety! The paper can be accessed following this link


New paper from Newton/Ungku Omar research collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia

Professors Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and Jonathan Parker of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work and Centre for Seldom Heard Voices have published research  that develops heir Newton/Ungku Omar research with Universiti Sains Malaysia for developing curricular and education for social workers in a time of pandemic.

COVID-19 resulted in massive disruption and changes in every
aspect of our lives. To curb the spread of the virus, many governments
limited the movement of people or imposed full ‘lockdowns’.
This created significant challenges for social workers practising with
people often reliant on interpersonal support such as those at risk
of domestic abuse; with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Measures to reduce viral spread affected the education
sector at all levels from pre-school to higher education, disrupted
traditional classroom pedagogy and shifted to technologically supported
e-learning to minimise disruption to the students’ education.
In lockdown, online teaching has become the new norm.
E-learning has its limitations for professional curricula such as social
work. Like most countries, field practice represents a compulsory
component of the social work curriculum in Malaysia which measures
the capabilities or competency of students to enable them to
become qualified social workers. When COVID-19 forced universities
and agencies to halt field placements in Malaysia, the immediate
challenge was to find alternative ways of assessing students. This paper aims to provide an overview of field education assessment in Malaysia during the pandemic and to pose questions for future assessment as Malaysian social work drives towards increased professional regulation.

Emerald Literati Highly Commended award for BU paper

Former PhD student, Dr Andy Harding, now at Lancaster University, and BU Professors Jonathan Parker, Sarah Head and Ann Hemingway have been highly commended for their paper Supply-side review of the UK specialist housing market and why it is failing older people published in Housing, Care and Support.

As a result, this paper has been made available on OpenAccess on the Emerald website for the next six months.

Final Safeguarding Adults ESRC seminar: Fusion in practice

The final seminar in our ESRC seminar series  concerning the development of legal literacy and adult safeguarding was held at the Friends’ Meeting House in London on the 11thOctober bringing together three years exploration of meanings, interpretation and learning from the implementation of the Care Act 2014. The series brought together expertise in adult safeguarding from the universities of Bournemouth, Bedford, East Anglia, Chester and led by Keele University, alongside practitioner expertise from 39 Essex Chambers and PASA-UK (Practitioner Alliance for Safeguarding Adults).

The morning session was chaired by Prof Jonathan Parker, who introduced the retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley to begin the day by examining professional power and responsibility and the complexities of decision-specific capacity and the need for care, brought to life through a range of often heart-wrenching cases. Prof Paul Kingston (Chester) and Luke Joannou of the Royal British Legion then considered the topical area of safeguarding in the charitable sector that highlighted contemporary demands for good governance brought to the fore by recent cases involving Oxfam and Save the Children. The final session of the morning was presented by Kenny Gibson, the recently appointed head of safeguarding for NHS England. Kenny, only 120 days in post, articulated some of the changes NHS England was making to roll out understanding and improve practice in safeguarding across the workforce.

Prof Michael Preston-Shoot (Bedford) chaired the afternoon session. The Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, the former minister who ushered through the Care Act 2014 began the afternoon, reflecting on transformative approaches to care and Winterbourne View. He was followed by Prof Jill Manthorpe (King’s College, London) who presented aspects of her research group’s work on whether or not powers of entry would be beneficial for practitioners working in adult safeguarding; a fraught and contested area of practice that raises the importance of debate in this area. Bridget Penhale (UEA) then took us back into the history of identifying elder abuse – a very recent history – showing the political twists and turns, and the ways this has added to calls for a UN Convention of the Human Rights of Older People. The afternoon was completed by Alex Ruck Keane (39 Essex Chambers) who took us back to the beginnings of the seminar programme and the elusive processes in developing adequate definitions to negotiate this complex practice milieu.

As the series drew to a close we have turned attention to sustainability, dissemination and taking forwards the learning. One of the central elements of the three years has been to raise awareness and knowledge amongst the next generation – public, professional and academic – of adult safeguarding and to identify and challenge blurred lines within society. One way of doing so has been to ensure spaces are available for students, at all levels of study. As an example of our BU fusion approach, promoting the interface of research, education and practice, final year Sociology & Criminology student, Andreas Bubier-Johnstone joined the seminar, his interests developing through the degree programme. His reflections are useful:

As a third year Sociology & Criminology student wanting to pursue a future career in Adult Safeguarding I found the seminar overall a tremendous help. On arrival I was greeted by many fantastic minds, and felt instantly welcome. All of the speakers provided me with new and, more importantly, useful information, whether it was from textbook legalities and standard protocols, to their own personal experiences; it was both fascinating, and stimulating. I found the overall diversity of the speakers, something of great interest. Being able to gauge information from different people, and perspectives was a great touch in showing different fields and how they function.

What I took away from the day simply was clarity. I knew after the seminar was over, that I really did want to pursue a career in adult safeguarding. It gave me a new founded drive, speaking to people who are developed in the field really has given me a boost, and hunger to achieve my future career goals. The people who attended the seminar were all very helpful, and provided me with information on how to further achieve my goals for the future.

Jonathan Parker and Andreas Bubier-Johnstone

BU Professor Gives Keynote in Japan

Professor Jonathan Parker was invited to present the keynote address to the Japanese Association of Social Workers conference in Okayama in July. The conference brought together Ministry of Welfare officials, key social work professional organisations and academics from every university in Japan to discuss growing professionalisation in social work in Japan and the Asia Pacific region.

Professor Parker was invited because of his long-standing association with social work in Japan resulting from translations of his best-selling books Social Work Practiceand Effective Practice Learning in Social Work, which have been consistently used in Japanese social work education over the last decade. He has also undertaken research and published with Professor Tadakazu Kumagai of Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare who was also a BU visiting professor.

Professor Parker’s keynote address warned of the ‘two-edged sword’ of professionalism and the dangers of recognition by the state, which restrict social workers’ role in resisting government prescriptions for the social control of individuals, families and groups without promoting a concomitant emphasis on human rights and social justice. Using psychoanalytic concepts, he argued that social work is an ambivalent entity in the minds of the general public and government and liable to be hated and blamed when tragedies occur whilst loved and required in times of need. Accepting this ambivalence, social workers need to take forward their resistance agenda by walking alongside those who are ostracised and marginalised.

The keynote was well received and has led to potential developments in UK-Japan funded research.

New edited book by BU academics

As a discipline and a profession, social work builds on a wide variety of methods and techniques for its practice. The broader frameworks of social work methodology guide social workers through the process of developing and creating interventions with different service users, carers and other professionals.

This book aims to provide an overview of current debates concerning social work methods and methodologies from an international perspective. It provides and enables exchanges about the variety of approaches and reflects the knowledge base for bringing social work theory into practice in different European settings and welfare contexts. It is a timely and welcome addition to the literature at a  time when European cooperation and solidarity is much needed.

Edited by Professor Spatscheck from Germany, and Professors Ashencaen Crabtree and Parker from the UK, this book comprises chapters selected from presentations held at the 17th SocNet98 International University Week at Hochschule Bremen and includes further contributions from throughout the SocNet98 network. The work includes a chapter by the editors co-authored with past BU Sociology & Social Policy students Emilie Reeks,  Dan Marsh and Ceyda Vasif.

“SocNet98 – European Network of Universities/Schools of Social Work” provides highly successful International University Weeks for social work students and academics from across Europe to learn from and share with one another. These study weeks have enriched social work education for 20 years and continue to do so.

An evening with Human Rights barrister Professor Philippe Sands

On Tuesday evening, we were most fortunate to host a talk byProfessor Philippe Sands QC, the eminent human rights barrister and Professor of Law at University College London. The evening was a collaborative event between the Westbourne Literary Festival – the ‘Book Binge’ – and the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work’s Centre for Seldom Heard Voices: Marginalisation and social integration.

The talk concerned Philippe’s Sands extraordinary book East West Street: On the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity, which is described as part detective story, legal thriller and part family history. The family connections that Sands identifies with the two Nuremberg prosecutors who developed law relating to human rights and genocide, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, are made even stronger when drawing on the close association all three have with promoting human rights and fighting crimes against humanity, connected family histories, places and education. We were reminded, importantly in our current period in history, that the development of human rights in international legislation was undertaken and promoted by the British at the Nuremberg trials. The tradition of compassion, fair play and commitment to human rights that has characterised British society was again emphasised with a warning that we must not lose it.

The talk, and the wide-ranging Q&A held afterwards, was not restricted to the book. Indeed, the consequences of Brexit, Trump’s United States, and world turmoil that allows the rise of the far Right link directly to questions of human rights, abuses of those and to crimes against humanity. Just a few days after the US, UK and French strike on Syrian targets it is not surprising that discussion turned also towards these contemporary events.

The evening was open to the public and a large crowd supported it. Attendees were transfixed by Philippe Sands’ easy yet erudite manner, and our honoured guests, the Mayor and Mayoress of Bournemouth, Councillor and Mrs Williams, were eloquent in their praise of this fascinating, challenging and most timely talk.

Professor Jonathan Parker

Challenging Disadvantage and Marginalisation

Our latest book Social Work with Disadvantaged and Marginalised People (Prof Jonathan Parker & Prof Sara Ashencaen Crabtree) is published by Sage. The work offers theoretical and practice based perspectives and insights into the complexities and importance of working with people at the margins of societies. Everyone who works with people and especially social and community workers need to understand the powers and processes that lead to disadvantage and marginalisation and to develop the knowledge, skills and values necessary to bringing about positive change and upholding social justice and human rights.

This need is reinforced in our present uncertain and insecure times. When the idea of writing this book was first mooted by our publishers we wondered what new approach could be brought to an area that seemed well trodden already in social work. What we found during the process of writing, however, was that there was a great deal to say on this hugely, perhaps fundamentally, important topic, in relation to the transition of social work as a profession operating in a society riven with inequities and divisions.

All times are ‘interesting’ for someone somewhere, but it seems a truism that we are currently living through a time of monumental and deeply uncertain transitions in the UK that will have a decisive bearing on lives and futures. Within the country we see that public services are stretched to crisis point and that public service pay caps are plunging public sector workers and many other working people into penury. We see that poverty is increasing, incomes are falling compared to rising household costs, and social welfare nets offer considerably less security than formerly.

Where then does this leave today’s social work graduates for whom amongst others, we have written this text? They are entering a beleaguered, under-funded profession and it could be said that social work is living through the ‘worst of times’, but, maybe also one of the best, to paraphrase Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities. The knowledge base of social work often constructs the concept of crisis as creating the tipping point to necessary change. We would suggest that this maybe where we currently are in England, we certainly hope so. For while the slow and unedifying helter-skelter journey downwards has taken time, as will the spiralling journey upwards, this can occur and maybe must occur, for the profession to survive. If change does happen and the profession eases itself up to a standing position, bedraggled and in tatters maybe, it should also take matters into its own hands and refuse to serve as political ‘whipping boy’ any longer, in the interests of marginalised and disadvantaged individuals and families everywhere in the England and the UK as a whole. If it fails to do this then it could be that social work in England, at least, will not survive into the future as a recognisable profession that adheres to international standards and values. If such were the case, then that indeed would be counted among the greatest national tragedies of our time.

The power of Bilding!

I was lucky, and honoured, in late October to visit Vechta, Lower Saxony, to give a keynote at the Gemeinsame Werte in Europa? (Common values in Europe?) conference as part of a European-wide celebration of 30 years of Erasmus funding and exchanges. Having acted as part of a European-wide panel on the future of Erasmus – especially post-Brexit – my keynote address dealt with the challenges of ‘precarity’ for many of our citizens throughout Europe and the need for radical social action to confront the increasing insecurities, uncertainties and inequities within contemporary society. It was a plea for European solidarity and action against neoliberal atomisation and its debilitating effects on the communitas, something that resonated with the European and international audience.

Last week my colleague from Universität Vechta, Magnus Frampton, continued the dialogue begun in Germany by offering an important seminar ‘What’s in a word? Bildung and pedagogy: two German understandings of education’ which explored, amongst other things, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s legacy to education. This was important in reminding us that education specifically focusing on the requirements of the economy or business is potentially damaging to the individual. It reminds us that the human and the social is central.

So, as we contribute to developing education, meaning and society, not as a linear project of the enlightenment but as a means of cultivating the self and the social and in shaping and creating anew who we are as human beings, we need to challenge and to question, to resist and make new rather than to be moulded as economic units for those with power. Long may the potential of Erasmus offer this academic freedom!

Jonathan Parker

New edition of bestselling book for BU Professor

The fifth edition of Social Work Practice, BU professor Dr Jonathan Parker’s bestselling book, has just been published. The book takes readers through a step-by-step journey into the four main aspects of contemporary social work practice – Assessment, Planning, Intervention and Review – underpinning these in their relational contexts and stressing social justice and human rights. The book introduces readers to each process in a clear and accessible way, supporting readers to both reflect on and apply what has been learnt in practice across settings and service user groups. The book provides a theoretical foundation from which readers can explore other aspects of social work.

This new revised edition of the book introduces an ‘ethnographic approach’ to social work, fusing research, earning and practice. It focuses on the centrality of relationship and resilience, exploring these critically within the political context of contemporary social work

History and Biography in the Sociology of Welfare: The importance of student fieldwork

Sociology, as an emerging discipline, developed within the crucible of historical studies of changing lives, transforming events and a search for alternative ways to understand history. We see this in the works of such illustrious progenitors of sociology as Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim and Weber but it has itself been marginalised, even hidden, as social, political and historical events have unfurled and a turn to biography has displaced the historical. Furthermore, historical sociology has taken something of a battering since John H Goldthorpe decried its relevance towards the end of the last century. However, it is perhaps this railing against the historical which has lent itself to a resurgence through such key figures as Barrington Moore, Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol and Shmuel Eisenstadt amongst others. But what of its place within contemporary undergraduate sociological education?

In an attempt to introduce today’s BU undergraduates to the important interdisciplinary fusion of the social, the biographical and the historical we have developed an innovative exploration of the histories of social welfare that students take in their second year of full time study. This involves the broad study of social and political welfare initiatives through to the Poor Law, its reform and the implementation of the Welfare State, retrenchment and contemporary attacks on welfare and those who claim benefits. So what? You may say. This is similar to most programmes of study charting welfare policy. However, two specific aspects mark out this module. The first is the assessment, reported elsewhere, which requires groups to explore the experiences of characters in specific historical periods through the construction of a narrative. This allows students to enter into the social and political worlds of individuals in need of social welfare and support.

The second innovative aspect relates to the continuing strands running through our explorations – we take Richard Lachmann’s approach to historical sociology to understand how the present, and future, is contingent on the past. Throughout the course, we examine seemingly inconsequential events leading to change, and why ‘transformative’ events, such as the introduction of the British Welfare State in 1948, occur when they do. Moreover, we embed this learning in a hands-on fieldtrip to the historic market town of Sherborne. Though a visit to the historic St Johns’ (two of them) almshouses, the architecturally stunning abbey, students are exposed to the religious beginnings of charity and alms, the turn to the Parish and the body politic in dispensing poor relief and an appreciation of the overt discrimination between deserving and undeserving. Indeed, they experience that the ‘poor are always with us’ and also they are stratified in society by those with power. As one student stated:

The trip … showed us how throughout history policies have changed, yet some have remained the same as 600 years ago. It made us appreciate and value history more. We learned how the welfare state changed with time to adjust to the environment and the social conditions (war, economic state, health condition of people etc).

The students undertaking this trip have experienced the importance of an historical sociological approach to social welfare policy and application marrying this with the contemporary focus on biography and merging analytic thought, and an appreciation of the affective. This was particularly evident in discussion of the contemporary foodbank provision which religious and lay people undertake to offset some of the hardships experienced by those requiring benefits today:

I also found it interesting how the food bank is run. I think it is so lovely that the people of Sherborne deliver the food bags to the people who cannot come to collect them. I have never heard of anywhere else that does this before and think it shows just how close a community can be and that we should all work together to help each other.

This takes historical sociology into a contemporary arena in which the biographical is included, and offers the students a chance to bring in the personal and to reflect on experiences whilst acknowledging the historical and the structural:

I was really surprised to find out that there are people still living in the alms houses today! I was not expecting that. I found it really interesting how there are still so many similarities to how it was ran when it began to how it is ran now. Before the trip my understanding was that to live in the alms houses wouldn’t have been a nice experience but from the trip I was able to understand that it was actually built with the intention to help people and that is exactly what it did and still does today. I made connections with the histories of social policy and welfare when I understood that the people who came to live in the alms houses were the ‘deserving poor’.

Jonathan Parker (Department of Social Sciences and Social Work), Nezhat Habib and Bonnie Brown (students on BA Sociology and Social Policy programme)

Sherborne Abbey

Sherborne Abbey

BU Professor gives plenary at Milan conference

On Thursday BU Professor Jonathan Parker delivered a plenary address to I Convegno Internazionale ‘Social Work Education’ Innovazioni ed Esperienze Milan conference(The International Conference on Social Work Education: Innovations and experiences) in Milan, Italy. Having represented the UK higher education sector when vice chair of the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee body and drawing on wide research, knowledge and experience of the reforms in English social work education he presented the dangers of replicating England’s changes before introducing innovations that offset some of the risks.

In an effort to ‘raise the quality’ of social work education, and to respond cynically to popular pressure, successive UK Governments, particularly in England, have imposed standards and regulatory frameworks that have curtailed the capacity of universities to educate students according to their specialist interests and research areas. Rather than focusing on pedagogy, universities have allowed employer organisations to set the agenda. They have increasingly restricted their curricula and by so doing have co-created, with various governments, a social work that is predominantly concerned with protection and safeguarding. Addressing a wide audience including the current president of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, Professor Annamaria Campanini, Jonathan Parker focused on the dangers of transferring these models and replicating them rather than promoting social justice and relational social work practice. He called for education that championed passion and joy in teaching and learning, was student-centred and actively challenged the corporate homogenisation of education. He suggested a focus on ethnographic practice in education, learning and onward into social work practice could offer a way forward and was needed.

Two other British academics, Professor Peter Beresford and Dr Pamela Trevithick, provided plenary sessions on service user involvement in education and relational skills. The conference was keen to learn about the innovations in and the problems of the English sector and to promote relationship skills and wisdom not the rigid application of standards that have crossed into higher education from the adoption of neoliberal market practices.

Jonathan Parker