The social work profession in the Czech Republic

Electronic versions


  • Lenka Divoka

    Research areas

  • PhD, School of Social Sciences, causal stories, Czech Republic, noe-Weberian theory, neo-international theory, professions, social work, traits theory


This thesis is a study of social work in the Czech Republic from the perspective of the sociology of the professions. Social work has been described as a semi-profession by many authors and social workers often feel they are viewed as second-rate professionals. In the Czech Republic, social work also has negative associations with the previous communist regime. The research examines such views, using a conceptual framework which combines elements of neo-Weberian, neo-institutional and traits theories. An extensive historical review of the development of the social work profession provides the background to the current professionalisation of social work and its search for recognition as a fully-fledged profession. There are two main research questions: how do social workers describe the current state of their profession, and how do they describe the pathways to enhanced professionalisation? The design of the research is a case study focusing on the field of child protection. Data from participant observation and semi-structured interviews is used to understand the policy-making process in the transformation of the current child protection system. Causal stories narrated by social work inter-professional groups reveal the main strategies of professionalisation. The results show that social work in the Czech Republic has not accomplished the autonomy of the established professions because of the restricted character of the social service market and political significance of social problems. Nevertheless, the profession has acquired some important advantages in the labour market, including a degree of market closure as described in the neo-Weberian theory of professionalisation. However, it is also fragmented into different inter-professional groups that pursue diverse strategies of professionalisation according to their institutional setting and market opportunities. Contrary to the general perspective of the authors in the sociology of social work, social work in the Czech Republic is found to be a fast-developing and flexible profession responsive to the current economic, social and political conditions of the country. The important conclusion is that social work is a profession that balances its economic interests with professional objectives within the institutional frame of social work employing organizations.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Ian Rees Jones (External person) (Supervisor)
Award dateJan 2016