The Neoliberal Colonisation of Social Work Education: A Critical Analysis and Practices for Resistance


  • Christine Morley Queensland University of Technology
  • Dr Selma Macfarlane Deakin University
  • Dr Phillip Ablett University of the Sunshine Coast


Neoliberalism, Social work education, Critical responses, Resistance


Neoliberalism reduces everything, including social work practice and education, to commo- dities, subjecting them to market calculations that maximise exploitation and profit. Whilst the impacts of neoliberalism on social work practice are now well documented, this paper seeks to contribute to an emerging dialogue about the impacts of neoliberalism on social work education. Social work education holds direct implications for social work as a discipline and the type of professional practice that is carried out in the field. The paper examines the implications of the neoliberal university for social work curriculum, pedagogy, research and academic educators, particularly with reference to the Australian context. In this paper we expand existing critiques about the impacts of neoliberalism on social work education, and draw on our own and other educators’ experiences to highlight the scope for agency and resistance.

Author Biographies

Christine Morley, Queensland University of Technology

Head of Social Work & Human Services, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Selma Macfarlane , Deakin University

Lecturer in Social Work

Dr Phillip Ablett, University of the Sunshine Coast

Lecturer in Sociology


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