Professor Jane Fenton

Jane Fenton
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I have worked at the University of Dundee since 2006, having spent most of my social work career in statutory Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) in Dundee. When I came to the university, I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to undertake a PhD focusing on social work values in CJSW as the expression of those values in CJSW had concerned me for some time. During my PhD study, I made an unexpected finding that younger workers were more accepting of managerial and neoliberal restrictions on value-expression than their older colleagues, and this led me to further research and study into students' interface and relationship with neoliberal hegemony.

As well as those research/scholarship interests, I am Head of Taught Post-graduate Programmes for the school and serve on various committees and working groups. I have an absolute affinity with our aspirations to deliver excellent teaching and learning in the school and enjoy contributing to that aim to the best of my ability.


As above, my research interests have developed from an interest in 'ethical -stress' (when values cannot be realised in practice) to an interest in younger workers and students' engagement with, and critique of, neoliberal hegemony. Reflecting this current interest, I published my first sole-authored book in 2016 entitled; 'Values in social work: reconnecting with social justice.' This was aimed at students and was written as an accessible text to help students understand neoliberalism and its antithetical position to social work values. I am currently writing a second sole-authored book (to be published in March 2019) called; 'Social work for lazy radicals: relationships, critical thinking and courage in practice.' This is a more advanced text, but, again, is intended for students who want to practice in a value-based, partnership, unoppressive way with the people who use social work services. I have also published a range of papers and chapters which further reflect my journey and the changing landscape of my scholarly activity. All of this work is fundamentally connected to my teaching. As a result of the above, I am frequently asked to act as an external examiner in various capacities, usually underpinned by my commitment to social justice in social work.

View full research profile and publications


My teaching interests link to my research and scholarship areas, namely: ethics and values; neoliberalism; and risk and decision-making. I am passionate about teaching and am consistently told this comes across in my lectures and seminars. I am very glad about that because social work is worth being passionate about!

Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

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Areas of expertise

  • Social work