Mobilities of welfare: The case of social work
DOI link for Mobilities of welfare: The case of social work
Mobilities of welfare: The case of social work book
The emergence of a social science of mobilities has begun to increase understandings of the centrality of movement to everyday life. This is perhaps most obvious with respect to large objects that occupy public space, such as the car and the aeroplane and institutions such as airports (Adey 2009). There is a need to open up all sites, places and social practices ‘to the mobilities that are already coursing through them’ (Sheller and Urry 2006: 209) and to examine how new systems of mobility, such as information technology, the mobile phone and so on are impacting on them. One such site that I focus on in this chapter is the welfare state. The ways in which most if not all welfare policies and practices are designed and delivered presupposes elements of movement and nonmovement. The ambulance is perhaps the exemplary object that embodies the necessity of movement and speed to promoting the safety and well-being of citizens. The hospital to which ambulances bring patients is clearly a solid structure, a building, which contains people who are, by definition of being ill, required to lie still in their beds, to be immobile. Yet in other respects hospitals are full of movement, of bodies being transported on trolleys to operating theatres, different wards, even ultimately to morgues; of staff moving around with differing degrees of urgency, be it rushing to emergencies or attending with a calm ‘bedside manner’ to the needs of a patient; of medicines travelling from pharmacies to wards and into patients, and blood flowing in similar ways. Hospitals embody the complex relationships between static, fixed, solid structures (walls) and constant movement (‘traffic’) that flows into them and goes on within them, that is typical of welfare institutions. Beyond the fixed structures of enclosed institutions like hospitals, other welfare services are even more profoundly shaped by movement because the service is delivered in the community or home of the service-user/patient. Community nurses, for instance, work from the organisational base of clinics and make daily rounds of home visiting for which they have to carry medicines and the tools of their trade with them in their cars. The pervasiveness of movement to these practices means that researching welfare through a mobilities paradigm can provide new understandings of what these practices are and new theoretical insights into the nature of movement and non-movement in everyday life.