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22nd June 2012, 10:04am
Book examines impact of digital divides on social work practice
A man using the Internet A new book by academics from the University of Lincoln reveals how vulnerable people are at risk of becoming ever more marginalised by society’s increased reliance on the Internet.

Social Work in a Digital Society, by Sue Watling and Jim Rogers, looks at the potential implications of 'digital divides' on social work education, placement and practice. The book, published in June 2012, is the latest addition to the SAGE / Learning Matters Transforming Social Work Practice series.

By exploring social work issues through the lens of a digital society, the authors show how service users and carers can be placed back at the centre of professional and effective practice.

Using case studies and reflective activities from the authors’ own extensive experience, the book directly addresses digital inclusion and exclusion to prepare students for practice in an increasingly digital world. It provides readers with a beginning sense of the complexities and anomalies of digital society and its connections with contemporary social work.

The book will be of interest to social work students, academics and professionals who want to consider how digital technology, the internet and social media impact and interact with social work practice.

Sue Watling has 20 years’ experience supporting access to digital environments in a range of areas, including adult and community education and social services. As teaching and learning coordinator within the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) at the University of Lincoln, she supports staff use of virtual learning environments and has a research interest in digital inclusion.

Jim Rogers is senior lecturer in Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care. He teaches on a range of undergraduate and post qualifying social work programmes. He has extensive experience of curriculum and programme development and has been involved in ensuring that social work students are introduced to key digital literacies and skills. Jim’s research interests include various aspects of mental health, mental capacity, addictions, social exclusion, and complementary therapies.

Sue said: “At a time when an internet connection is considered essential for social, political and economic participation, this requirement is being reinforced by government moves to ‘digital by default’ policy and practice, including in the provision of information and welfare services.
“Research shows how existing categories of social exclusion are being exacerbated by digital exclusion and digital divides are isolating those already socially marginalised and disadvantaged. These new digital discriminations are raising potential implications for social work practice with its underpinning values of empowerment and social justice.”

Social Work in a Digital Society, by Sue Watling and Jim Rogers, is published by SAGE/ Learning Matters in the Transforming Social Work Practice series. For more information, visit:

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