Journal Article

The Impact of Political Conflict on Social Work: Experiences from Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine

Shulamit Ramon, Jim Campbell, Jane Lindsay, Patrick McCrystal and Naimeh Baidoun

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 36, issue 3, pages 435-450
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
The Impact of Political Conflict on Social Work: Experiences from Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine

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This paper investigates the impact of violent political conflict on social workers and service users in three countries: Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine. Despite its significance for social work (and other helping professions), there is a dearth of research on the subject. The authors construct a research framework which encapsulates the complexity and ambiguity of the issues at stake and three parallel empirical studies, which follow this framework, are presented. The findings highlight the burden of working and living in a violent political conflict, not just for service users but also for social workers. Emotional stress, fear, competing national and religious identities, yet some indication of resilience, are key findings from these studies. A number of moral and professional dilemmas emerged across all three studies, often testing loyalty to universal social work values. Thus, some respondents at times found it difficult to deal with colleagues and service users who were perceived to be ‘the enemy’. These studies highlight the need to raise the consciousness of social workers, agencies and policies about such issues in a world which is increasingly afflicted by violent political conflict. Support, education and training for social workers which transcend national contexts and further international research in this important area are recommended.

Keywords: violent political conflict; social workers, service users; ethical dilemmas; international research

Journal Article.  6726 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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