Social workers in China From ignorance to life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In mainland China, as the social work profession has developed, theoretical and practical research on the development and supervision of social work has increased. However, academia has given little attention to the differences between social workers that develop through their experiences and reflections on their own personal development. To explore the issues faced by social workers and to uncover how they grow from frontline social workers into supervisors, this study adopts a narrative method to investigate the personal development paths of nine social workers with different years of service, specialisations and experience levels.

The study outcomes reveal that professional social work in China is still at an early stage. The service-as-training system of social work has yet to be perfected, and so social work is simultaneously rewarding and frustrating. This study explores and reflects on informants’ stories from the perspectives of training, service management and supervision of social work. The following findings are noteworthy. Externally, interaction and mutual trust issues stem from host entities. Internally, some workers in certain social service positions have no social work training. At the tertiary education level, some instructors have no field practice in social work. All of these factors hinder the development of social work. This study thus proposes that the government begin to reform social work education so that social workers can receive more professional development and that a community of professional social workers be developed to meet local needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Discovery and Innovation in Social Work and Fieldwork Education
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2020


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