Journal Article

Broadening the Conceptual Lens on Language in Social Work: Difference, Diversity and English as a Global Language

Gai Harrison

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 36, issue 3, pages 401-418
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch271
Broadening the Conceptual Lens on Language in Social Work: Difference, Diversity and English as a Global Language

Show Summary Details

Preview

Language is infused in multiple dimensions of human behaviour, and social work is essentially a language-centred activity. Yet, despite the pivotal position of language to many social work activities, its significance has rarely been explored in terms of difference. Moreover, the linguistic diversity that characterizes the local and global contexts in which many practitioners operate has been given minimal attention in the social work literature. In this paper, I contend that how language is conceptualized in social work both shapes and constrains the way that practitioners perceive issues relating to linguistic diversity. The paper maps out the limitations of some of the existing conceptual lens used for viewing language in relation to the multilingual milieu in which social work takes place. It also draws attention to the global pre-eminence of English, the significance of bilingualism and the limitations of a monolingual frame of reference for social work. A case is made for augmenting the existing knowledge base on language with a multidisciplinary approach to language that incorporates bilingual perspectives. Rather than providing a definitive model for understanding language, I suggest that such an approach expands the conceptual landscape for exploring language and difference in social work.

Keywords: Language; diversity; difference; social work

Journal Article.  8053 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.