Journal Article

'Anti-oppressive practice': emancipation or appropriation?

A Wilson and P Beresford

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 30, issue 5, pages 553-573
Published in print October 2000 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2000 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/30.5.553
'Anti-oppressive practice': emancipation or appropriation?

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This article offers an initial critical discussion of the concept of anti-oppressive practice - AOP - from the perspectives of service users. Whilst acknowledging the emancipatory aspirations of anti-oppressive practice, it also considers its regressive potential. AOP has become central in social work theory and practice and indeed is sometimes presented as a key approach and theory of social work. This discussion highlights the failure so far significantly to involve service users and their organizations in the development of anti-oppressive theory and practice. It considers how the ideology and structures of anti-oppressive social work impact upon service users; the problems raised by 'expert' appropriation of users' knowledges and experiences and the issues raised by the failure so far to address the use of social work and social care services as an area of difference and category of social division. Finally, the article examines alternatives to existing notions of anti-oppressive practice based on the equal involvement of service users.

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