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Time To Care, Time To Play: Wellbeing, Social Work and the Shorter Working Week

My (Pat Kane's) presentation to the ADSW conference at Crieff Hydro, May 19th, 2011

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Time To Care, Time To Play: Wellbeing, Social Work and the Shorter Working Week

  1. 1. TIME TO CARE, TIME TO PLAY wellbeing, social work & the shorter working week PAT KANE ADSW 2011
  2. 2. Three blind quotes on the importance of human relationships in social reform: 1: “The very simple idea of people's relationships with others is what is at stake here. The centrality of one-to-one conversations, of relationship building , of establishing trust between what were seen as incompatible communities and interests transformed my understanding of what a politics of the common good could be”
  3. 3. Three blind quotes on the importance of human relationships in social reform: 2: “For at the end of the day, prosperity goes beyond material pleasures. It transcends material concerns. It resides in the quality of our lives and in the health and happiness of our families. It is present in the strength of our relationships and our trust in the community. It is evidenced by our satisfaction at work and our sense of shared meaning and purpose. It hangs on our potential to participate fully in the life of society.”
  4. 4. Three blind quotes on the importance of human relationships in social reform: 3: “If we stick the course and change this country then we will have a national life expanded with meaning and mutual responsibility. We will feel it in the strength of our relationships – the civility and courtesy we show each other, . . . and we will feel it in our culture – a new can-do and should-do attitude where Britons once again feel in control of their lives”
  5. 5. Three blind quotes on the importance of human relationships in social reform: 1: Maurice Glasman, architect of “Blue Labour”, 2011, The Observer 2: Tim Jackson, ex-head of Sustainability Commission, 2009 3: David Cameron, 2009, Hugo Young Memorial Lecture, “The Big Society”
  6. 6. SW's domain of expertise - the quality of human relationships – is the stamping ground of many contending social and political forces now International Federation of Social Work definition: The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Yet what are the optimum social & economic conditions for the maximum level of human flourishing & relationships?
  7. 7. Oscar Wilde: “the problem with socialism is that it takes too many evenings...” Problem with Big Society is the same... Who (beyond the already committed) has the time & energy to help repair a “broken society” through social enterprises?
  8. 8. Other aspects of Big Society easily derided  - it's a rebranding of previously existing work in voluntary sector - it's a cover for the casualisation & deep privatisation of public services, under an unnecessarily extreme pace of national deficit reduction   - it's a semi-aristocratic notion of the value of good works, noblesse oblige extended to the motivated middle classes
  9. 9. JESSE NORMAN'S “BIG SOCIETY” “ What, then, is Motivation 3.0? It is based on three ideas: autonomy, mastery and purpose . “Autonomy” refers to the degree of control that people have over their work; “mastery” to their desire to get better at something they care about: and “purpose” to their desire for meaning – for what they are doing to matter not merely to them but to other, or to God. People succeed – both in the world's terms and their own – when they are motivated by intrinsic rewards, not external ones . Their success is most influenced not by talent but by sheer hard work and persistence, in seeking a mastery that can never fully be realised. And the work or sport or pursuit in question is driven by the belief that, in a world of hype, it matters. Ultimately then, conviction and substance are what make the difference... Together these ideas provide huge empirical support for what we have called the “active self”... “ [The Big Society] would mean a systematic focus on empowering front-line staff and allowing them to get on with the job—giving them the ability to gain the autonomy, mastery and purpose that we have seen are the sources of creative motivation .” SPEED-READING THIS TORY MP'S GUIDE TO THE BIG SOCIETY... I CAME UPON THIS INTERESTING TRINITY OF CONCEPTS...
  10. 10. In “Red Tory”, Philip Blond argued that the big banks should be broken up & turned into community banking institutions, bringing fluidity to social & community enterprises. Funnily enough, that hasn't happened... We need to look to other critiques from other perspectives - the current mainstream political paradigms are pretty exhausted 
  11. 11. Environmentalists & sustainable economists have been arguing for “ Prosperity without wealth” (Tim Jackson), “Plenitude” (Juliet Schor) If you swallow the “green pill”, y ou become very aware of how the material throughput of western consumer society will contribute disastrously to global warming. We have to change - even as a lifestyle cue to Asia's coming 6 billion in 2050
  12. 12. So the Greens are looking to redefine what we Westerners regard as wealth - away from work-to-earn-to-hyper/heedless consumption. RELATIONSHIPS our new wealth - if we clear time, space & resources to develop those, we not only answer our well-being issues, but also reduce our energy consumption & material throughput “ We spend money we don't have, on things we don't need, to make impressions that don't last, on people we don't care about”
  13. 13. The consensus among environmental economists - how do we create space for prosperity and plenitude, while reducing material consumption? - is the reduction of working hours. NEF is 21 hours as a horizon - “1092 hours” across a year. My suggestion in Sunday Herald was 30 hours more immediately, as a response to cuts in public sector employment in local councils
  14. 14. But there is also a social services dimension to the shorter working week - which is in terms of coproduction/co-creation of services. How many poor social indicators could be addressed by more time (& not necessarily more money) available to parents, carers, enthusiasts for environment, locality, arts & multiculture?
  15. 15. How can social work raise questions at a higher level? One memorable quote from Reimagining Social Work: “Sometimes I just think we're ambulancemen for capitalism" Social work should be in the forefront of arguing for a sustainable society where relationship is paramount - and militant about arguing for those social and economic arrangements which would most support that
  16. 16. “ The greater challenge for social workers is how they can shift themselves and service users beyond present-day concerns with material consumption and instrumental outcomes. In a culture of choice and self-expression, well-being demands a balance in the form of emotional closeness, respect and collective solidarity. These are not inherently conservative values, rather the issue should be how to give them a radical new connection with the concepts of justice, inclusion and diversity.” Bill Jordan, Social Work and Wellbeing (2009), Intro
  17. 17. Right now? Social work needs to have an active, not passive or procedurally-bounded discussion with all the new "relationship/society" peddlers First comment...
  18. 18. TIME TO CARE, TIME TO PLAY wellbeing, social work & the shorter working week pat kane / ADSW 2011