Chapter published in:Identity Struggles: Evidence from workplaces around the world
Edited by Dorien Van De Mieroop and Stephanie Schnurr
[Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture 69] 2017
► pp. 371–386
Embracing a new professional identity
The case of social work in Botswana
Social work in Botswana is a young and rapidly developing profession. In the last fifty or so years, the role of the social worker has changed, from distributing practical help to taking on roles which were previously filled via age- and status-based social structures. Also, since the 1960s social work in Botswana has developed from a largely unqualified, low status job to a graduate profession and this process of identity formation is the focus of this chapter. In particular, we document social workers discussing their professional activities and relating these to the professional structures through which they must attempt to accomplish their goals. Our data is drawn from a series of interviews, and our methodological approach is a combination of directed and inductive content analysis. Issues of identity which emerge include language, belief systems, education, accountability, and the place of the social work profession among other professions. Through our interviews we attempt to collaborate with social workers to theorise the conflicts which are experienced and the avenues which seem most promising for the development of a professional identity which serves the need of the community, clients, and social workers themselves.
Keywords: bilingualism, Botswana, content analysis, identity, interviews, professionalism, social work, writing
Published online: 26 April 2017
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