Revisiting social work professional identity in the light of the impact of COVID-19

Wiles, Fran (2022). Revisiting social work professional identity in the light of the impact of COVID-19. Social Work Education (Early Access).



The meanings and status of social work—and potentially professional identities—vary internationally according to factors such as roles, training and status, as well as political, economic and social contexts. A new contextual element for social work identity is the profession’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This paper considers recently published international literature discussing social work and social work education during the pandemic; and revisits the author’s previously published findings about social work professional identity. Following a literature search, the resulting articles were treated as texts and analyzed using the theoretical concept of interpretative repertoires. The academic literature indicates that, globally, social workers have played an essential role during the pandemic. The importance of professional identity as a source of collective support, pride and inspiration is consistently highlighted. Professional values and ethics have provided guidance for dealing with unprecedented situations, both in social work practice and social work education. Social workers and educators have mobilized around professional identity to advocate for social justice and fairer policies. Innovative fieldwork placements have expanded students’ understanding of how organizations can work for social change. The literature highlights social work education’s vital role in supporting students to explore and develop professional identity.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 86081
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1470-1227
  • Keywords
  • professional identity; COVID-19 pandemic; social work education; social work values; interpretative repertoires
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
  • SWORD Depositor
  • Jisc Publications-Router
  • Depositing User
  • Jisc Publications-Router