The article treats some current transformations of social work, particularly assistancial and socio-sanitary work within social cooperatives. The authors are interested in the link between the crisis of welfare, the organisational restructuring of cooperatives, and nonpaid work. The analysis, based on various interviews and group discussions, indicates growing discomfort among social workers linked to the increasing marketization of social work. The resulting intensification of work, loss of managerial autonomy and service quality erode workers’ professional identity. At the same time, they undermine the mechanisms of consent production which, in the past, used to assure workers’ high availability to nonpaid work as an integral part of daily work performances. While many of such dynamics can be equally found in other sectors of cognitive labour, in the specific case of social work within cooperatives elements of traditional workplace conflict emerge in a context that has long been considered as immune to it.
Keywords: Social work, nonpaid work, cognitive labour, welfare, crisis, conflict