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Dr John Harris

Emeritus Professor

John worked in local authority social work for fourteen years as a social worker, training officer and district manager before moving to higher education, where he worked at the University of Warwick for 24 years until his retirement in 2012. He had a strong commitment to PhD research at Warwick, supervising twelve successful candidates, and led the Modernisation, Managerialism and Social Services research grouping, which brought together staff and PhD students. As well as providing regular in-house research seminars, this group arranged well-attended sessions for social workers at which research findings were presented and discussed. The group wrote Modernising Social Work: Critical Considerations (co-edited with Vicky White). In addition, he has been an external examiner of PhD theses in the UK and abroad.

John’s research interests have been primarily focused on: the history of social work; the intersections between policy and practice; changing welfare regimes; citizenship; management/managerialism; neoliberalism; and social work with adults. Work on these interests has had a comparative dimension in relation to Australia, Buryatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and the United States. For example, he worked on behalf of the European Union for eleven years with the regional government in St Petersburg and St Petersburg University in developing social services, social work education and a research centre, following the break-up of the Soviet Union. In parallel with these projects, he had a longstanding commitment (ten years) to applied research and practice development with Warwickshire County Council. This arose after he had completed six months of full-time social work practice (on leave from Warwick) and involved working with practitioners and managers on 30+ projects. As part of the process, participants were encouraged to reflect on their experiences and write up the projects for publication, including two books (co-edited with Vicky White). Consultancy was provided to a local authority in relation to the Care Act (2014), which included writing policies and procedures and providing training to all staff before and after the Act’s implementation. More recently, he co-led a project in Sweden on the privatisation of local authority services for older people and is currently involved in a further Swedish project on the privatisation of child protection assessments. He has published 40+ peer-reviewed journal articles and is the author/editor of ten books, including the Oxford Dictionary of Social Work and Social Care (with Vicky White), Working with Older People (with Denise Tanner) and The Social Work Business. He is a member of the editorial boards of Critical and Radical Social Work, Social Work and Society, Revista de Administraçāo e Políticas Públicas, and Sozialwissenschaftliche Literatur Rundschau.

John worked in Germany for two years (on leave from Warwick) as a Professor at the University of Wuppertal, and was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for six months. He has also taught at the Universities of Basel, Bielefeld, Deakin, Essen, Helsinki, Kassel, Leeuwarden, Linnaeus, Minnesota, St Petersburg, Seinajoki, Ulan Ude and Windesheim. In 2002 he co-founded, with Hans-Uwe Otto (University of Bielefeld, Germany) and Walter Lorenz (University of Bolzano, Italy), the Social Work and Society International Summer Academy (TISSA), which has grown steadily and now attracts 200+ participants from 20+ countries. The event is preceded by a PhD summer school that draws 100+ students from across Europe.