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Social work and social media in Aotearoa New Zealand: Forging new boundaries


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Social work and social media in Aotearoa New Zealand: Forging new boundaries
The realities of social media demand the attention of social workers all over the world - both because of its significant impact on local societies, and on social justice issues associated with the global digital divide. Competence to engage in social media has arguably become the imperative of all professions however it is put forward that the social work profession should be more highly engaged in media activities given its principles of social justice and commitment to social change - activities which require an expertise in networking, communication skills and “media consciousness” (Briar-Lawson et al, 2011).This imperative has led to the development of tertiary inter-professional learning opportunities with journalism and social work students (Gelman and Tosone, 2010; LaLiberte at al, 2011), managing professional boundaries and leading to the notion of collaborative practice between social workers and journalists (Stanfield and Beddoe, 2013).
This thinking also extends to the close link between ‘the media’ and ‘social media’ in the social work context. Social media has created the capacity for non-journalists to disseminate news, has changed the way journalists gather and report on news events and has affected how news is consumed and shared between people. Studies show that those who use social media as a news source are increasingly more interested in the views and “media analysis” of their personal networks, rather than what was traditionally offered by journalists. This suggests that “hierarchical relationships between mass media consumers and producers of media content are being further unravelled” (Hermida et al, 2012, p. 816). This reality offers social workers an opportunity to forge a new boundary between themselves and traditional media; as “citizen journalists” new means by which to pursue social justice are available.
This global backdrop has led to a small Aotearoa New Zealand based study which asks how social workers in this country approach social media professionally; the initial themes emerging from the preliminary analysis of its data will be offered in this presentation. The data collected from New Zealand social workers via both quantitative questionnaires and key informant interviews has generated a diverse set of themes spanning social work identity, competence, capacity and the navigation of personal and professional boundaries. A wide spectrum of opinion is offered about the relevance of social media to the profession, varying levels of confidence and competence in its use, and thoughts about the unique influence New Zealand culture has on the professional use of social media. The results also offer an intriguing selection of metaphors that describe the relationship social workers have with social media.
This presentation of this ongoing piece of work will highlight implications for social work education, for boundaries between research and practice and will describe an emerging identity of social work in the context of the New Zealand social media landscape.
Briar-Lawson, K., Martinson, K., Briar-Bonpane, J., & Zox, K. (2011). Child welfare, the media, and capacity building. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 5(2/3), 185-199. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2011.566754
Gelman, C. R., & Tosone, C. (2010). Teaching Social Workers to Harness Technology and Inter-Disciplinary Collaboration for Community Service. British Journal of Social Work, 40(1), 226-238.
Hermida, A., Fletcher, F., Korell, D., & Logan, D. (2012). SHARE, LIKE, RECOMMEND. Journalism Studies, 13(5-6), 815-824. doi: 10.1080/1461670X.2012.664430
LaLiberte, T., Larson, A., & Johnston, N. (2011). Child welfare and media: teaching students to be advocates. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 5(2/3), 200-212. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2011.566757
Stanfield, D., & Beddoe, E. (2014). Social work and the media: A collaborative challenge. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 25(4).

Item Type: Item presented at a conference, workshop or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: social work, social media, social work education, social work advocacy, media advocacy, social work identity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Depositing User: Deb Stanfield
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2015 04:52
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 03:40

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