Journal Article

Some Critical Perspectives on Social Work and Collectives

Stewart Collins

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 2, pages 334-352
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Some Critical Perspectives on Social Work and Collectives

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Recently, renewed attention has been given to the role of collectives in social work, based on a series of journal articles, newspaper coverage and a web-based Manifesto. These developments take place within contemporary society, where there is an emphasis on individualism, individualization and identity politics. This article examines the role of collectives in the early years of the twenty-first century. It examines Ferguson and Lavallette’s (2004) examples of collective approaches from a critical perspective, considering the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and their contribution to social work practice. The examples of collective approaches include, first, groups of workers coming together within and across agencies; second, the development of strong, work-based union organizations; third, the recognition of the importance of groupwork and community development approaches; fourth, learning from and working with collective user movements; and, finally, learning from challenges to global capitalism such as the anti-capitalist movement. The article highlights the positives and great potential of collective approaches, but also includes some words of caution, noting that collectives are one amongst several ways of approaching interactions in social work.

Keywords: collectives; individualism; individualization; groups; support; unions; user and anti-capitalist movements

Journal Article.  8385 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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