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Archiv čísel » 2018/4 - ERIS Journal - Summer 2018 »

Social Work Practice of Hospital Social Workers under the Structural Adjustment Program in Greece: Social Workers Protecting the Right to Health Care within the Context of Neoliberalism

Maria Pentaraki

Medailon autora:

Dr. Maria Pentaraki is Lecturer in Social Work at the School of Social Science, Education and
Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast. Previously she has held academic posts in England and
Greece where she was also the Head of one of the largest social work departments. She has a wide
range of research interests such as international social work, social work practice under austerity,
shared austerity reality, grassroots community solidarity structures, gender based violence, dating
and teenage relationship abuse violence and LGBT issues. She has been actively involved in the
peace and justice movement throughout her life in many countries in which she has lived.


OBJECTIVES: This study explores the effects of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) and its resultant social spending cuts and austerity measures on social work practice in Greek public hospitals. THEORETICAL BASE: The research is informed by a critical social theory approach. METHODS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with eleven senior social workers. OUTCOMES: Data gathered from qualitative interviews in 2011 reveal that underfunding and understaffing causes workers to intensify their professional efforts and to increasingly draw on more informal contacts, as well as on their personal resources, to respond to the needs of service users. Health care spending cuts within the context of neoliberal capitalism clearly undermine participants’ ability to effectively perform their work, but they do the best they can with the available resources. Faced with an increasing inability to provide optimal care, participants reorient their focus to at least providing emotional support. A strong theme of resistance emerged, with participants insisting that health care is a right and not a commodity. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: The paper maintains that it is imperative for the social work profession to understand that the difficulties they experience emerge within the context of neoliberal capitalism and thus austerity measures and social spending cuts need to become a locus of intervention.

Klíčová slova:

neoliberalism, social work, austerity, Greece, health care as a right, Structural Adjustment Program, resistance, social spending cuts, hospital social workers, relationship based social work

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