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Social Work and Social Media in Aotearoa New Zealand: Educating Social Workers across Shifting Boundaries of Social Work Identity

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The uneasy relationship between the social work profession and the media has led to recognition by social work educators of the need to incorporate knowledge of media processes and skills of media engagement into the social work education agenda. In addition, there is a clear link between traditional media and social media in the social work context, and the tensions experienced in the media landscape resulting from the recent move to ‘new media’ are relevant to social work and its role in advocating publicly for the rights and needs of vulnerable people. This article makes reference to these ideas in the context of a small Aotearoa New Zealand study that seeks information about social workers’ professional use of social media in this country. Ideas offered by professional leaders in social work are thematically analysed, and themes discussed in this article relate to the complex personal and professional identities social workers negotiate as social media users. Implications for social work education are offered, including those that relate to professional identity development and the ever-shifting ethical landscape of social media engagement.
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Keywords: Social work and social media; media advocacy; social work advocacy; social work education; social work identities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Health and Social Practice, Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand 2: Faculty of Education and Social Work, School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: April 2, 2016

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