In Search of Social justice-informed Services: A Research Agenda for the Study of Resistance to Neo-managerialism

Shachar Timor-Shlevin, Koen Hermans, Rudi Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


One of the main characteristics of social work is the fundamental tension between the profession’s conservative and critical rationales. In the last three decades, this tension has informed the development of critical resistance to the deprofessionalisation effects of neo-managerial rationality, which establishes cost reduction and fiscal accountability as the basis for professional practice. However, the theoretical conceptualisation of such critical resistance is caught between minor and major operations, both of which are considered insufficient. Addressing this gap, this article builds on the theoretical framework of radical incrementalism to develop a research agenda for the future study of resistance processes, which we conceptualise as operating in the middle range of a power exertion scale, between minor and major forms of operation. We portray the operation of resistance in the middle range of such a power exertion scale and offer a research agenda that includes relevant research directions and methodological considerations. In this way, the article suggests new ways of understanding, conceptualising and operating resistance to enable further development of the social justice-informed professionalisation of social work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-39
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

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  • critical social work
  • neo-managerialism
  • radical incrementalism
  • research
  • resistance


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