Journal Article

The Trouble with Harry: Why the ‘New Agenda of Life Politics’ Fails to Convince

Paul Michael Garrett

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 3, pages 381-397
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
The Trouble with Harry: Why the ‘New Agenda of Life Politics’ Fails to Convince

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Harry Ferguson (2001), referring largely to Britain and Ireland, maintains that social work should be committed to a ‘new way of thinking’ which is rooted in ‘life politics’. This idea, uncritically grounded in the ideas of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck, fails to convince because: the assertion that we are now living in a ‘post traditional order’ is undermined by the resilience of key historical forms of regulation and control which continue, for example, to limit women's choice in the sphere of reproductive rights; identified changes in the texture of family relations are not evidenced by research; the ‘life politics’ perspective places too great an emphasis on human agency, choice and volition and not enough on structural constraint; the structural location of the ‘life politics’ proponents is not interrogated; the analysis is too stridently dismissive of the idea that ‘emancipatory politics’ should be social work's primary orientation.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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