Journal Article

Human Rights and Gypsies and Travellers: An Exploration of the Application of a Human Rights Perspective to Social Work with a Minority Community in Britain

Sarah Cemlyn

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 1, pages 153-173
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online November 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl349
Human Rights and Gypsies and Travellers: An Exploration of the Application of a Human Rights Perspective to Social Work with a Minority Community in Britain

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This paper explores the relationship between human rights social work and issues facing Gypsies and Travellers, and argues that work with these groups cannot be properly understood outside a human rights framework. It outlines different generations of rights, key current debates, and their significance for social work, building on other emancipatory frameworks for practice including anti-oppressive practice, structural social work and critical postmodernism. These perspectives find some expression in social work ethical codes. For Gypsies and Travellers, human rights violations occur in many socio-political contexts, causing cycles of exclusion and disadvantage. However, Gypsies and Travellers are increasingly mobilizing nationally and locally to promote their rights. The somewhat limited research on social work in this area concurs in finding distance between the parties, lack of cultural understanding and engagement, and problematic practice as well as some clear pointers for improvement. Policy developments contradictorily related to promoting rights and increasing disciplinary surveillance are examined for their relevance to work with this group. The paper explores the importance of an inclusive, participatory and discursive approach to human rights practice, and examines its significance for a paradigmatic shift linking social work with the broader struggle for human rights of Gypsy Travellers and other groups.

Keywords: Gypsies and Travellers; human rights; social work

Journal Article.  8846 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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