Chapter

The jester's joke

Charlotte Williams

in Radical social work today

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428189
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303138 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847428189.003.0005
The jester's joke

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In Stan Cohen's essay in the classic Radical social work collection, he draws on the idea of ‘the jester's joke’ as a means of illustrating the need for the occasional prompt to jolt professional thinking and action. This chapter argues that the radical trajectory of anti-racism in social work in Britain has found itself in a cul de sac characterised by a politics of compromise. Social work deployed a particular model of radicalism and a set of strategies that have been exhausted in terms of their usefulness in the current political context such that they cannot be regarded as ‘radical’ at all. In their book, Bailey and Brake implied a significant rethink of the role and identity of social work and the ways in which social workers were being prepared for the world of practice. The variant of radicalism proposed by Bailey and Brake placed too much confidence in the trade unions, while failing to observe the discriminatory practices of trade unionists themselves.

Keywords: Radical social work; social work; radicalism; Britain; jester's joke; anti-racism; social workers; trade unions

Chapter.  7938 words. 

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