Journal Article

Emancipatory Social Work? Opportunity or Oxymoron

Bill Jordan

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 34, issue 1, pages 5-19
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch002
Emancipatory Social Work? Opportunity or Oxymoron

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This paper explores the extent to which social work can be said to have espoused a consistent and distinctive set of principles and values, particularly against the background of adaptation to the changing ideological agendas of government over the past 25 years. Against the context of globalization, it traces a quickening pace of individual rather than collective progress as the touchstone of public policy, with an increasing reliance on coercive measures to discipline those who fail to make the necessary or successful efforts on their own behalf. Social work's roots in nineteenthcentury individualism leaves it particularly vulnerable to co-option into this agenda but, the paper argues, approaches which pay lip-service to autonomy, choice and empowerment, which actually deal in rationing, risk assessment and enforcement, will end in frustration and failure. A way forward exists in a renewed emphasis upon the social dimension of problems and their resolution, together with a re-investment by social workers in the notions of membership, mutuality and democratic solidarity through which individual well-being can be negotiated.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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