Category / Uncategorized

Events Management students from School of Tourism visit high profile venues at London field visit

The end of the last term saw the first year Events Management students in School of Tourism on a field visit to two high profile event venues in London.  Tours of ExCeL London, including their new Phase II ICC London space were given to the students by: Martin Avard  (Senior Events Manager) and Tom Edwards (Events Manager).  Students also visited the Barbican Centre in the City and had tours and presentations from: Samme Allen (Barbican Head of Sales for Business Events); Nia Edwards (Business Events Executive) and Oliver Hargreaves (Business Development Manager of Business Events for Barbican).

The field visit helped to underpin the first year students’ understanding of the nature, significance, organisation and impact of the events industry in contemporary terms, and also from a national and international perspective.

The first stop being ExCeL London students were divided into two groups and given extensive walking tours of the ExCeL’s vast space, including sections of two of their 4500 square metre exhibition halls. Students heard about the diversity of events including major trade shows and exhibitions such as London Boat show and the World Travel market.  This included the challenges of the venue hosting seven different competitive events as part of the London 2012 Olympics including for example boxing, fencing and wrestling competitions. They also toured the new ICC London (International Convention Centre) space of the venue, where venue hire can be in the region of £20,000 per day.

Their tour guides shared with the students details of their own career paths in their respective events management fields, through to managing the largest exhibition and convention space in the UK.  First year Events Management student Megan Aitchison said of the ExCel tour: “ExCeL is such a dramatic building that even when approaching the building it has a exciting feel about it. The size of the venue instantly made me think that any sort of event would be able to be hosted here without limitations.  We were shown that the versatility of the size and selections of rooms assist ExCeL with many incredible events that they host”.

The second tour on the day at the Barbican began with a staff presentation to the events students in Cinema 1, with a capacity of 280 people.  The students learned about the range and diversity of events hosted at the Barbican from corporate product launches, official AGM’s, the concert hall home of the LSO along with the hard work involved in delivering high end events and performances to its diverse clientele.  The students also had back stage tours of the main concert hall where they were given talks and tours by the Barbican technical team and included insight into:  backstage, main stage and lighting, and acoustics of Concert Hall events.  First year student Davina Gilbert took the following away from her visit there “the Barbican as a venue space was my favourite; immediately I noticed its personal atmosphere and friendliness. The layout was creative and felt like a mini adventure! You could tell the staff were passionate about their jobs and really believed in the space they were showing. Having a venue space that feels comfortable, friendly, creative and professional certainly speaks volumes more than just large spaces and formal settings”.

This industry specific field visit helps the students to contextualise their learning further in their course, and is a complement to content delivered as part of lectures, seminars, guest speakers and case studies more widely.   Content from the field visit continues to be embedded in one unit and across others delivered at level C.

Password? Not another one!

The increasing volume of academic activity on the internet coupled with a growing obsession about privacy and data protection means for many academics a rapidly expanding number of online accounts and associated passwords. This is, of course, over and above our regular dose of accounts and passwords as citizens of the virtual world. The average adult in the UK must have at least 25 internet accounts, for the bank/building society, supermarkets, phone companies, social media, airlines, trains, insurance companies, eBay, the website of the parents’ council of your children’s school, your electricity provider, the council tax, etc.

I feel as an academic, the burden is even worse. Every single time another scientific journal invites me to review a paper it opens an on-line account for me. Every time I apply for a grant from a funding body to which I have not previously applied, I am required to set up an account with a new password. When you apply for 20-odd grants every year and review manuscripts for a similar number of different journals the number of accounts and passwords add up rapidly. Then there are the other accounts and passwords related to work for sites such as this BU Research Blog, BRIAN, Survey Monkey, for the university for whom you act as external examiner, for Drop Box, the British Library, ORCIC, ACADEMIA.EDU, ResearchGate, Researchfish, Linkedin, and the list goes on.

These last few months I was reminded how non user friendly some systems are. First, I received new secure email account for my part on a REF sub-panel. The account name chosen for me is different from what I would have chosen and what I am used to at Bournemouth University. The importance of confidentiality for the REF work is clear so my password has to be different from anything I use elsewhere. Secondly, a few weeks later I attempted to put my name done for the tri-annual conference of the International Congress of Midwifery in Prague next year. It turns out you cannot join the conference without opening an on-line account first. The account name was automatically chosen for me and so was the password. Unfortunately, both are impossible to remember, neither the account name nor the password (which was case sensitive) were ones I would have selected personally.

There is some hope as some journals allow you to choose your own account name and password. Elsevier has brought most of its journals into one account, with your own email as the account name and all with the same password. Similarly a group of English-language journals in Nepal called Nepal Journals OnLine (NepJOL) use one account name for all participating journals. For the rest of my account names and passwords I can only follow the advice given by Stephen Fry on an episode of QI: “Write it down somewhere on a piece of paper”. The underlying idea is that the people who try to steal your internet account details sit in a bedsit in London or Hong Kong and won’t come to your office or living room to steal a piece of paper with computer addresses. The people who try to break into your house or office are looking for objects with a street value, such as your TV, phone or laptop, they are generally not interested in a piece of paper with some scribbles on it.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Jib Acharya awarded funded place on Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) workshop in Morocco


Congratulations to Health & Social Care PhD student Mr. Jib Acharya who has been offered a funded place at the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) workshop. The SUN workshop will be held in Morocco in early February 2014. The British Council and CNRST have launched a new five-year programme to encourage international research collaboration between ambitious young researchers from the UK and eighteen countries around the world. The forthcoming SUN workshop is a part of this programme. One leading team of researchers from the University of Southampton and from Morocco proposed this bilateral workshop to be held in Morocco to bring together early career researchers to discuss their research and start to build international relationships.

The selection committee wrote to Mr. Acharya: “the selection was challenging. The selection panel (UK and Moroccan coordinators and mentors), has chosen 16 applications that would contribute to and benefit from the workshop most”. The British Council and CNRST will cover the costs related to the participation to the workshop, including: travel (both international and local), visa, accommodation and meals.
Jib is delighted with his award. He commented: “It will give me a chance to build up networks with participants at this workshop. It will help to establish personal and institutional relationships.”

Jib’s PhD thesis is based on A comparative Study on Nutritional Problems in Preschool Aged Children of Kaski District of Nepal. His research applies a mixed-methods approach and he is supervised by a team of three BU supervisors: Dr. Jane Murphy, Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, and Dr. Martin Hind.

Cyber Security Seminars: Suggestions for Speakers and Topics

If you have been following my previous posts then you will know that today is the final Cyber Security Seminar for this semester.  We hope you have found the seminar series interesting so far.

We are currently planning the seminars for next semester.  Please get in touch if you have suggestions for potential speakers, or topics you would like to hear more about. Although the budget we have available is modest, we will do our best to accommodate your suggestions.

BU Hosts PSA Media and Politics Group Annual Conference

The Annual Conference of the PSA Media and Politics Group (MPG) was held at Bournemouth University on 13-14 November, 2013, attracting over 50 delegates from the UK and abroad. It was organised by BU colleagues Heather Savigny, Richard Scullion, Anna Feigenbaum and Dan Jackson.

A crisis of political engagement?

The conference opened with a keynote by Ruth Fox, the Director and Head of Research for the Hansard Society. Her talk titled: “The Media and Political Engagement: Helpful or Harmful to our Democratic Health?” presented some of Hansard’s recent data on political engagement and the media and politics. For Fox, the situation is no less than a crisis, with their data suggesting that the media has a lot to answer for, and little evidence that tabloids enhance the democratic life of the country. She also encouraged scholars to download and use their data and engage in further scrutiny of their work.

Dr Ruth Fox, Director and Head of Research for the Hansard Society

Minority Voices, Media and Politics

The primary theme of this year’s conference was ‘Minority Voices, Media and Politics.’ The conference explored the often problematic relationship between the media, politics and marginalised, silenced or minority voices in contemporary society. Taking a broad approach to the topic, our conference included papers from different disciplinary, methodological, historical and national perspectives; from the voices of extremist violence, to mediations of tear gas and representations of disability in the media. We were also treated to a keynote by Dr Emily Harmer (Loughborough University), who presented her research on press coverage of female politicians in historical perspective. We aim to take forward some of the conference papers into an edited collection on the conference theme.

Music and Beer

Our third keynote was more than just a Professor of American Literature and Culture, Will Kaufman is a musician whose keynote was a musical tribute to Woody Guthrie; the enduring voice of 1930’s protest music.

Prof Will Kaufman (UCLAN) delivers his musical keynote on Woody Guthrie

Alongside this musical feast, we decided to give the conference drinks reception something of a twist. We have all attended conference wine receptions, right? Memorable? Probably not.  We therefore wanted to make our drinks reception stand out, and offer something for those beer lovers like ourselves. Ably supported by our BA Politics and Media students (who are responsible for the funky logo!) we ran the inaugural Media and Politics Group beer festival. A selection of ten British ales was offered, each with accompanying tasting notes courtesy of BU’s Dr Darren Lilleker. We even got a bit carried away and designed a beer festival logo which was printed on conference glasses!

All modesty aside, it was a rip-roaring success, and something we will be doing for future events.

The MPG beer festival

Prof Ivor Gaber (City University/ University of Bedfordshire) and Dr Michael Higgins (University of Strathclyde) settling into their beer tasting…

 

Ideas in Conflict

The question of why our species engages in war is one that goes to the heart of human nature, often generating starkly polarised views as to whether the peculiarly human propensity to engage in organized conflict between groups is something ‘hard wired’ in our species or is simply a product of particular social systems that promote such behaviour. In considering this question an aspect often debated is the extent to which war should be seen as a fairly recent development, absent before civilization, or whether it has been around much longer going deep into the human past. In relation to this latter the answers people generate may depend largely on the kind of data they focus on. Past conflict can generally be detected via four strands of evidence: written sources, artefacts (weapons, armour etc.), defensive structures and human remains. Of these four, the first three come with a range of problems; weapons and defences may simply be statements of prestige or status and reveal little about how much actual conflict there was in the past, meanwhile written sources are characteristically biased and incomplete and together represent only 1-2% of the time modern humans have existed.
Instead our new book The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict (edited by Chris Knüsel, Exeter and Martin Smith, BU) focuses specifically on human remains in order to ask the question: ‘if human burials were our only window onto the past, what story would they tell?’ Skeletal injuries constitute the most direct and unambiguous evidence for violence in the past, and in fact offer clear and unequivocal evidence of physical hostilities reaching as far back as we have burials to examine.
Warfare is often dismissed as ‘senseless’ and as having no place in society. Consequently, its place in social relations and societal change remains obscure. The studies in this volume combine to present an overview of the nature and development of human conflict from prehistory to recent times as evidenced by the remains of past people themselves in order to explore the social contexts in which such injuries were inflicted. A broadly chronological approach is taken ranging from the Krapina Neanderthals, to Neolithic Asia, Precolumbian Peru, First World War France, and 1990’s Rwanda. However this book is not simply a catalogue of injuries illustrating changes in technology or a narrative detailing ‘progress’ in warfare but rather provides a framework in which to explore both continuity and change based on a range of important themes that hold continuing relevance throughout human development.
Taken together these studies demonstrate not only the antiquity of war but also the extent to which processes and mechanisms acting to promote or limit intergroup conflict in the context of prehistoric villages hold equal relevance for the global village today. We conclude that war may not be an evolutionary adaptation in itself but rather a by-product of other ‘hard-wired’ mechanisms that may be exploited as part of a social strategy by which individuals and groups attempt to advance their own interests. This is a heartening point as this means that rather than an inevitable human universal, war can be seen as something that might eventually be dispensed with altogether. The last word on human conflict is far from being written, but when it is it need not be a pessimistic one.

Bournemouth Professor to deliver the 2013 Corfield Nankivel Memorial Lecture

Professor Timothy Darvill OBE will deliver the 2013 Corfield Nankivel Memorial Lecture on Thursday 5 December 2013 in the Truro Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, Truro, at 7:30 pm. The title of his lecture is ‘Stonehenge Rocks’ and in it he will discuss findings from excavations at Stonehenge and in the Preseli Hills of Southwest Wales.

The lecture is hosted by the Cornwall Archaeological Society (http://www.cornisharchaeology.org.uk/winterlectures.htm)

EThOS – Find out more about the British Library’s free online thesis service

The British Library are hosting their first EThOS webinar:

Using doctoral theses in your research: a guide to EThOS

EThOS is the national database for PhD theses, managed by the British Library. It’s a fantastic resource for researchers, with over 100,000 UK theses freely available to download and use for your own research, and another 200,000 available to search and scan on demand.

Join the free webinar to learn how EThOS works. Find out how to search for and download theses, and what to do if a thesis isn’t available. If you’re a PhD student, find out what will happen to your thesis once it’s completed. They will also explain how EThOS works with UK universities to support the whole research cycle, making the theses more visible and available for new researchers to use and build on.

This webinar is aimed at researchers, students, librarians and anyone who is interested in finding and using PhD theses.

Webinar on 10 December 2013, 11.00am GMT

Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5131544266794515713

For BU-specific advice on accessing theses and for accessing other sources of theses information such as the Proquest Dissertations and Theses database, which provides access to global theses information, use the Locating Theses Researcher Guide on the Researcher Library Web Pages.

Contact your Library Subject Team for more help and advice around accessing theses.

The Quantum Fiction of Michael Moorcock and William S. Burroughs

On Wednesday 4 December at 3p.m in TAG01, Sebastien Doubinsky from the University of Aarhus in Denmark will present a paper on the fiction of Michael Moorcock and William S. Burroughs to the Media School’s Narrative Research Group. Dr Doubinsky is a science fiction author of international renown (Absinth and the Song of SynthBabylon TrilogyQuien Es?) and also a literary critic and publisher, specialising in contemporary speculative works of poetry, criticism and fiction across four languages. All are welcome to attend and the abstract of the talk follows.

THE QUANTUM FICTION OF MICHAEL MOORCOCK AND WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS – a relative reading of The Jerry Cornelius Quartet and Nova Mob

If science-fiction is the questioning of our present through our possible future, then Moorcock and Burroughs go beyond this simplistic definition, as they also question our past. Through transparencies and cut-up techniques, they present us not only with a dystopian future, but rather with a dystopian present and future fuelled with the past. Jerry Cornelius can travel through time and the Multiverses, as well as agent Lee. The identity of the text then becomes problematic for the reader, as its polymorphous form, more often than not detached from sense, forces him into a very uncomfortable position, as “understanding” in the conventional sense becomes almost impossible. What’s more, by indicating the possibility of History through period or event references, these writers also question the coherence of fiction itself – putting it in a quantum state, that is to say in different places at the same time, with different  identities. Fiction and reality are thus displaced both within and outside of the reading frame, announcing a third possibility, which is their quintessential mirrored relativity.

 

BU Professor at COST Action Training School (Malta)

Bournemouth University contributed to the successful Cost Action Training School 2013 earlier this month (see: www.um.edu.mt/events/costactiontraining2013/). The Training School ‘Writing for maternity services research, theory, policy and practice: Integrating new theoretical insights from the iR4B COST Action’ was held at the University of Malta.
The 24 trainees who were successful in their application came from a wide-range of European countries. At the Training School each trainee was linked to one of six experienced trainers, three from Ireland: Prof. Declan Devane, Dr. Valerie Smith, and Prof Cecily Begley, and three from the UK: Prof. Soo Downe, Dr. Lucy Firth, and BU Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen. These trainers brought to the Training School not only their extensive experience as writers, but also that of scientific editors, reviewers for academic journals, and PhD supervisors.

(photo by Mário Santos, Portugal).

The Training School included presentations on how to incorporate notions of salutogenesis and complexity into maternity care and midwifery publications, issues around writing academic English as a non-native English speaker, plagiarism, how to start writing an academic paper for a MSc or PhD thesis, and many more related topics.
In their feedback some trainees stressed that this is the kind of helpful information every postgraduate student and budding academic should know about. Others said “I wish I had known that before as no one ever addresses these issues.” The trainees discussed the outlines of their papers, and they were given ample time to draft papers under the watchful eye of their trainer. All trainees have committed to submit a paper derived from the Training School by early Spring 2014.
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is one of the longest-running European frameworks supporting cooperation among scientists and researchers across Europe. For further information on OST in general see: http://www.cost.eu/ ).

Bournemouth University was represented by Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen based at the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health in the School of Health & Social Care.

ESRC knowledge exchange funding to change

ESRC is to change the way in which it allocates funding for knowledge exchange activities. The current knowledge exchange opportunities scheme provides funding for social scientists to undertake a range of activities with non-academic stakeholders and requires 50% contribution from a partner in the user community. It is open to any social scientist to undertake knowledge exchange based on their research, whether funded by ESRC or not. This scheme will close on 31 March 2014.
From summer 2014, a replacement scheme (Impact Acceleration Accounts) will fund knowledge exchange through a block grant allocated according to institutions’ recent ESRC funding. Those institutions allocated funding will then be required to submit a business plan in order to release the money.
BU has not been allocated funding through the Impact Acceleration Accounts, so if you are a social scientist and hope to undertake funded knowledge activities, start planning your application now for submission by March… Further information can be found at http://www.esrc.ac.uk/collaboration/knowledge-exchange/opportunities/index.aspx.

XMAS SHOPPING FOR RETAIL RESEARCH IDEAS? – SHOW & TELL/MEET AND GREET SESSION AT TALBOT CAMPUS: 10TH DECEMBER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Retail Research Group (RRG) offers a forum for cross-university research project co-operation across the university.  This research group is part of the Hospitality and Retail Academic Group of the School of Tourism but welcomes membership from all schools – anyone who has potential research interests of a retail-related nature.  The current Retail Research Group focuses on a wide range issues including shopper consumer behaviour, branding, wayfinding, ethical retailing, cultural/arts retailing, tourist retail, events retailing, pop-up shops, place and space/atmospheric design, mobile commerce, multi-channel loyalty, co-creation and retail marketing. Sectors focused upon include food, fashion, entertainment, department stores and museum/gallery shops and cafés. Recent publicity on the governmental Portas Report and aspects of urban decline or the ‘Death of the High Street’ have  been a prompt for a renewed attention on broader socio-cultural aspects of retail relating in city, town, country, community and environmental considerations.

The research group aims to act as a hub for retail-related research activity across the University. In the spirit of Fusion, the group also has an extremely strong focus upon student consultancy projects, PhD research development, and engagement with industry.

With this in mind they have scheduled a Show and Tell/Meet and Greet Session for Tuesday December 10th at 1.00 pm in The School of Tourism’s new Professional Engagement Suite, D234, 2nd Floor, Dorset House, Talbot Campus.

Anyone wishing to participate in the Show and Tell part of the session, where they can join the current RRG team in briefly presenting their areas of research interest for a few minutes each, should send three Powerpoint slides briefly covering their interests in issues relating to retail to Charles McIntyre (email: cmcintyre@bournemouth.ac.uk ) by Monday 9th December. Break-out discussion sessions will be possible following the main presentations.

Any others just wishing to just Meet and Greet or hear some ideas for areas of potential research presented are also welcome to attend – all welcome!

Christmas refreshments will be provided.  Hope to see you there – in retail style: ‘Have a good day!’

Are you keen to develop industry partnerships? Find out how academia and the private sector can work together

By 2014, capital grants to UK universities from Government will have halved.

But what are you doing to bridge the gap?

In order to maintain a strong financial position in this environment, without allowing academic or commercial standards to slip, institutions will need to diversify their income streams.

Developing Industry Partnerships – Thursday 27th February 2014 in Central London will guide you through the process, from how to bid for industry funding successfully to how to maintain beneficial relationships with your partners.

Leave with all the practical guidance on the most effective methods for obtaining alternative HE funding, setting your University up for continued success and future improvement.

 

Only by attending will you:

– Establish the best approaches to industry collaboration

– Learn how to capitalise on your university’s reputation

– Identify the best strategy for your university to systematically achieve your goals

– Understand the importance of commercial partners when securing investment

– Raise your funding questions with experts in the field

 

Early Bird Rates Available Now

Please contact Claire Berry on 020 7550 5954 and quote MK2F3KP

Or email enquiries@moderngov.com

Book online: Please click here to visit the online booking form

University Rate – £395+VAT (standard rate – £445+VAT)

This offer must end Friday 22nd November, cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, applies to new bookings only, and must be mentioned at the time of booking.

Bigger on the Inside

 

 

 

 

 

The Doctor, his TARDIS-driven adventures, along with companions and iconic monsters, are all over the TV and newspapers. The Inner World of Doctor Who is a new book, just out. Written by Prof Mike Rustin (UEL, Tavsitock Clinic) and Prof. Iain MacRury in the Media School here at BU. This publication offers an accessible account of Doctor Who. It focusses just on the most recent television output – 2005 to 2013 – and examines why the show continues to fascinate us.
The Doctor’s relationships with his companions are to the fore. Various chapters also consider the dramatic meanings of monsters and time travel – linking the show back to ideas about audience experience – and what we might ‘learn’ from Doctor Who. It looks at the complexity of the new Doctor Who in its depictions of the suffering of the Doctor, as well that of his at times vulnerable and dependent companions. A connection is made between TV content and some (but not all) elements in the experience of psychotherapy.
We propose that one way of thinking about the Doctor is to see him as a kind of inadvertent ‘therapist’ – with the TV dramas on screen rendering troubled states of mind and society within a rich cultural frame. Doctor Who extends a fairy-tale and children’s fictional tradition across its contemporary media platforms. As we argue: In Doctor Who everyday life is often revealed to be “Bigger on the inside.”

The 50th anniversary won’t come again and it provided a chastening deadline we’re glad to have met it! The book was inspired by the startling success of the show in recent years. Why does it attract such attention and affection? While thinking about it I  got further daily encouragement from the TARDIS that sits on the ground floor of Weymouth House, courtesy of our former Media School colleague, Dr Andrew Ireland.

The Inner World of Doctor Who is published with Karnac books. It should be of interest to diehard fans. But it is written, too, for people who probably wouldn’t claim the title ‘fan’ but for whom all the fuss about Time Lords and Tardises just now (The Doctor is even on postage stamps!) is provoking the thought: “What’s this all about!?” The Inner World of Doctor Who offers some answers.
 – Written with a colleague, Prof. Mike Rustin, from UEL and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust the book emerges from an enriching collaboration that began in some teaching sessions at the Tavistock clinic on their MA in Psychoanalytic Studies. It has now developed into this book. The book came together quite quickly and has been usefully supported by an AHRC funded network called “Media and the Inner World”. The book is published as part of their new series with Karnac called Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture.
If you are interested the book can be found at http://www.karnacbooks.com/Product.asp?PID=34857 or as an e-book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inner-World-Doctor-Psychoanalytic-Psychoanalysis/dp/1782200835

Breastfeeding poster presentation at Royal College of Midwives conference

Dr. Catherine Angell, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery attended the annual RCM conference on November 13-14 in Telford.  Catherine presented an academic poster to highlight some of BU’s key research in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health.  The poster (Fig. 1) reported findings of a survey of users of the Healthtalkonline webpages on breastfeeding.  These webpages are based on breastfeeding research conducted at BU can be found here.  BU research has fed into research-based training modules for midwives, lactation consultants and other professionals.  Currently the breastfeeding webpages receive around 37,000 hits each month, representing around 1,500 individuals.

The problem with clicks on webpages is that it suggests interest but it does not constitute evidence of changing knowledge or behaviour.  Dr. Angell teamed up with BU colleagues Prof. Vanora Hundley, Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, and Senior Lecturer Alison Taylor as well as Prof. Kath Ryan from La Trobe University Australia to study the effect of the webpages.

To ascertain the impact of the webpages the team developed and conducted an online questionnaire survey of users of the breastfeeding webpages between Nov.2012- Feb. 2013.  A questionnaire study was administered after ethical approval had been granted. The survey was completed by 159 people, mainly from the UK, but also from other parts of the world such as Australia and New Zealand (12.6%) and the USA/Canada (2.5%).

BU was also represented at the RCM conference through BU Visiting Faculty Jillian Ireland.  Jillian is a community midwife working for NHS Poole, who presented a poster on the benefits to mothers and staff of the RCM Bournemouth & Poole Community choir.

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

 

 

‘all professions are conspiracies against the laity’ George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor’s Dilemma, 1906

British social services, without doubt, represent one of the best systems of social work throughout the world for protecting children, supporting families where circumstances and experience make them vulnerable and ensuring people with mental health problems are appropriately sustained. That notwithstanding, social work services in Britain, and in England in particular, have journeyed towards a more individualistic model of care and treatment promoted primarily in the US, and the roots of community action and practice that are truly ‘social’ have become less visible. This places our social work services, excellent as they are in key areas, on the margins of international understandings of social work.

Perhaps the changes articulated above are understandable given our affaire de Coeur with neoliberal philosophies and our celebration of the cult of the individual derived from Margaret Thatcher’s governments, perpetuated by Tony Blair and continued aggressively by the Coalition government of the day.

These changes have significant impact on people and their communities, reassigning blame from social structure to the individuals themselves. Also, there remains a potentially negative impact on social work globally. Many countries have followed the US and British social work models to develop services, sometimes as a direct result of colonialism, sometimes because of implicit global power relations. There is a legitimate concern that adoption of an individualistic approach reflects a neo-imperialist agenda, with problems resulting for those communities and groups made invisible within this process.

Our new book Professional Social Work (edited by Jonathan Parker BU & Mark Doel Sheffield Hallam) seeks to address some of these challenges. We suggest there is such a thing as ‘professional’ social work, that it must be distinct from ‘unprofessional’ social work. Our thesis is that it is imperative that we reclaim social work and its former radicalism and iconoclastically confront governmental established priorities, emphasising humanity’s social condition rather than its atomisation. In the book, we grapple with the fraught and complex definitions, practices and understandings of ‘professionalism’, exploring how the concept can be used to justify differing perspectives.

Including the work of some of the foremost thinkers in contemporary British social work (Stephen Cowden & Gurnam Singh, Pat Higham, Graham Ixer, Ray Jones, Malcolm Payne, Gillian Ruch, Steven Shardlow, Roger Smith, Neil Thompson, Sue Whist, and Marion Bogo from Canada) we promote professional social work practices that are relational, critical and reflexive, that challenge and help people and their communities to reconstruct themselves in their chosen ways.