Simon Duffy's paper in a previous issue of this journal (Duffy, 2010) is an important contribution to current debates on the meaning and implications of personalisation for social care and social work. Duffy's central argument is that this major policy development is consistent with a social work based on social justice and that social workers should cast aside their reservations and embrace the technologies of personalisation. In this paper, I shall argue that Duffy's paper fails to acknowledge the conflicting agendas involved in current policy debates and, specifically, the extent to which personalisation is also consistent with a neoliberal social and economic agenda which limits, rather than extends, social justice. The important differences between Independent Living models and models of personalisation based on neoliberal assumptions will be explored and the implications of the 'hybridisation' of Independent Living and neoliberal discourses examined in respect of the following four areas: choice and control; support and advocacy; 'enforced collectivity' and 'enforced individualism'; and the implications for social work practice. The paper concludes with a critical assessment of Duffy's proposed Theory of Social Justice and suggests that its failure to adequately address issues of redistribution (as opposed to issues of recognition) or to locate the experience of people with disabilities within the wider framework of neoliberal capitalism limits its usefulness as a basis for a progressive social work.
- independent living
- disability movement