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    Financial Responsibilisation and the Role of Accounting in Social Work: Challenges and Possibilities

    Chow, Danny and Greatbatch, David and Bracci, Enrico (2019) Financial Responsibilisation and the Role of Accounting in Social Work: Challenges and Possibilities. British Journal of Social Work, 49 (6). pp. 1582-1600. ISSN 0045-3102

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    Accounting provides a distinctive conceptual lens to analyse how neo-liberal reforms in the public sector operate. Despite this, appreciation of the significance of accounting as a key neo-liberal instrument of organisational change is only embryonic in social work research. Against this background, this article presents the findings of an empirical study, conducted across children’s services departments at three English councils, which illuminates how neo-liberal policies inculcate financial responsibilities in social work by examining the microprocesses surrounding the application and usage of accounting techniques. The instillation of neo-liberal values that underpin the use of accounting in social work privileges economic efficiency over those emphasising collectivism and organisational resilience. The extent to which accounting has been embraced appears mixed, however, with managers supportive of neo-liberal values and techniques, but frontline practitioners are more circumspect. Another unintended but emancipatory potential reflects the opportunities for social work professionals to reassert their epistemological claims by reshaping accounting with social work values. However, such outcomes remain a distant possibility, whilst managerialism retains its stranglehold on social work. This study raises awareness for the need not only to be cognizant of but also to critically evaluate accounting’s role across all areas of social work.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: Danny S L Chow, David Greatbatch, Enrico Bracci, Financial Responsibilisation and the Role of Accounting in Social Work: Challenges and Possibilities, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 49, Issue 6, September 2019, Pages 1582–1600,
    Keywords: accounting; financial responsibility; governmentality; neo-liberal; social work;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Business
    Item ID: 15029
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Danny Chow
    Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2021 14:49
    Journal or Publication Title: British Journal of Social Work
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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