Journal Article

Social work, individualization and life politics

H Ferguson

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 31, issue 1, pages 41-55
Published in print February 2001 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2001 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Social work, individualization and life politics

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This paper (re)conceptualizes the fundamental concerns of social work in late-modernity as 'life politics'. Drawing on theories of reflexive modernity and risk society, the emergence of life politics is placed in the context of processes of 'individualization', a transformation of intimacy, and a new kind of reflexivity and concern with risk which have moved to the centre of how both institutions and selfhood are constituted today. The paper aims to move understandings of the radical potential of social work beyond a one-dimensional view of power and risk which arises from an over-structural focus on 'emancipatory politics'. At the heart of late-modern life politics, expertise and lay people, in which social work increasingly takes the form of being a methodology of 'life planning' for late-modern citizens. The paper aims to advance forms of practice which take the life political domain, emotionality and the depth of social relations as their primary focus, thus enhancing the capacities of (vulnerable) clients to practice effective life-planning, find healing and gain mastery over their lives.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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