Professor Malcolm Carey

Professor, Social Work

I am a qualified social worker who previously worked in local authorities, the voluntary sector and residential care, exclusively with older and disabled people. I have an academic background in the humanities and social sciences, and a professional past in adult social work.

I have previously undertaken ethnographic and interview based research - particularly around the construction and management of professional identities at street-level. I have published around adult social work in relation to the following themes: care management and policy; professional identities; agency employment; participation and exclusion; and more recently in relation to rule bending and cynicism among social workers. I particularly enjoy exploring issues which are under researched or examining theoretical or social and political concerns and policy from a critical perspective.


BA (Hons) Social Anthropology/Philosophy/Economics University of London

PG Diploma in Social Work Cardiff University

PhD Sociology University of Liverpool


My key interests are in 5 interrelated areas which include:

Adult Social Work and Social Care/Care Management: especially how core policy such as care management is interpreted at a local level and within organisations and, perhaps most importantly, how such policies are enacted by front-line practitioners, and what their implications are for older or disabled ‘clients’.

Ageing (and Disability): most of my front-line social work practice has been with older people, including forms of advocacy and attempts to reduce structural disadvantage or exclusion and support people meaningfully and ideally outside of institutional care. I am also experienced and interested in disability, however, and am strongly influenced by critical gerontology, critical disability theory and other perspectives informed by critical paradigms.  

Professional Identities: This includes the various ways by which practitioners construct, reconstruct and manage their sense of selves; their beliefs, relations and attitudes towards ‘clients’, their individual and shared sense of morality or means by which they may challenge professional discourses and dominant ideologies.    

Poverty and Exclusion: this includes in relation to structural disadvantages experienced by older and disabled people; and the ways by which social workers as proactive appendages of the state are able to maintain, extend or challenge such forms of exclusion and disadvantage. 

Qualitative Research: mostly this relates to smaller scale methodologies such as micro-ethnography, interviews and case study approaches. I have carried out a number of ethnographies, including with Asian Doctors and Care Managers.

I would be interested in supervising a PhD around any of the general areas above or a topic that is related.

Published work

Refereed Journal articles:

Carey, M. and Foster, V.L. (2013) ‘Social work, ideology, discourse and the limits of post-hegemony’ Journal of Social Work 13(3): 248-266.

Carey, M. (2013) ‘The last resort? Similarities and differences between contingent ‘agency’ employment practices in social work and nursing’ International Social Work 56(4): 482-495.

Carey, M. (2012) ‘Mind the Gaps: Understanding the rise and implications of cynicism within social work’ British Journal of Social Work Advanced Access: August 24th. [

Carey, M. (2012) ‘The use of professional ‘agency’ social workers: Some findings and recommendations from recent research’ Journal of Care Management Services

Carey, M. (2011)Here today, gone tomorrow? The ambivalent ethics of contingency social work’ Critical Social Policy 31 (4): 540-561.

Carey, M. and Foster, V. (2011) ‘Introducing deviant social work: Contextualizing the limits of radical social work whilst understanding (fragmented) resistance in the state social work labour process’ British Journal of Social Work 41(3): 576-593.

Carey, M. (2010) ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go? Practical, Ethical and Political Challenges to ‘Service User’ Participation within Social Work Research’ Qualitative Social Work 10 (2): 224-243.

Carey, M. (2009) ‘‘It’s a Bit Like Being a Robot or Working in a Factory’: Does Braverman Help Explain the Experiences of State Social Workers in England and Wales since 1971?’ Organisation 16(4): 505-527.

Carey, M. (2009) ‘Happy Shopper? The Problem with Service User and Carer Participation’ British Journal of Social Work 39(1): 179-188

Carey, M. (2009) ‘The Order of Chaos: Exploring Agency Care Managers Construction of Social Order within Fragmented Worlds of State Social Work’ British Journal of Social Work 39(3): 556-573

Carey, M. (2008) ‘The Quasi-Market Revolution in the Head: Ideology, Post-modernism, Care Management’ Journal of Social Work 8 (4): 341-362.

Carey, M. (2008) ‘Care Management Unleashed: Enduring Ethical Tensions 20 years after the Griffiths report 1988’ Ethics and Social Welfare 2 (3): 308-316.

Carey, M. (2008) ‘Everything Must Go? The Privatisation of State Social Work’ British Journal of Social Work 38(5): 918-935. 

Carey, M. (2008) ‘What Difference Does it Make? Contrast, Convergence and the Privatisation of State Social Work in England and Canada’ International Social Work 51(1): 83-94.

Carey, M. (2007) ‘White Collar Proletariat? Braverman, the Deskilling/Upskilling of Social Work and the Life of the Agency Care Manager’ Journal of Social Work 7(1): 93-114.

Carey, M. (2007) ‘Some Ethical Dilemmas for Agency Social Workers’ Ethics and Social Welfare 1(3): 342-347.

Powell, J. and Carey, M. (2007) ‘Social Theory, Performativity and Professional Power - A Critical Analysis of Helping Professions in England’ Human Affairs 17 (1)

Carey, M. (2006) ‘Selling Social Work by the Pound? The Pros and Cons of Agency Social Work’ Practice 18(1): 3-15.

Carey, M. (2003) ‘Anatomy of a Care Manager’ Work, Employment and Society 17(1): 121-135.

Robinson, V. and Carey, M. (2000) ‘Peopling Skilled International Migration: Indian Doctors in the UK’ International Migration 38 (1): 89-108.

Carey, M. (1995) ‘Evaluating the application of dependency theory to the study of skilled international migration’ Swansea Geographer 31: 42-56.



Carey, M. (2013) The Social Work Dissertation – Using Small-Scale Qualitative Methodology 2nd edition Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Carey, M. and Green, L. (eds) (2013) Practical Social Work Ethics: Complex Dilemmas in Applied Social Care Aldershot, Ashgate.

Carey, M. (2012) Qualitative Social Work Research Skills: Theory and Practice Aldershot, Ashgate.

Carey, M. (2009) The Social Work Dissertation – Using Small-Scale Qualitative Methodology Maidenhead, Open University Press.


Book Chapters

Carey, M. (2013) ‘Practical Ethics, Professionalism and Ethical Space’’ in Carey, M. and Green, L. (eds) Practical Social Work Ethics Aldershot, Ashgate.

Carey, M. (2013) ‘Some Ethical Doubts and possiblities regard Service Users Participation within Social Work’ in Carey, M. and Green, L. (2013) Practical Social Work Ethics Aldershot, Ashgate.