Radical social work and service users: a crucial connection

Peter Beresford

in Radical social work today

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428189
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303138 | DOI:
Radical social work and service users: a crucial connection

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Social work is an activity that is essentially about relationships. The relationship of ultimate importance for social work, which defines its role, process, and raison d'être, is that between it and service users. This chapter examines the relationship between radical social work and service users in Britain, and how this relationship has developed and changed since the inception of radical social work in the 1970s. It first discusses the emergence of service-user movements, and then explores the link between service-user values and social-work values, Mike Oliver's criticism of social-work education for failing to address disability issues, and the weak leadership of social work. The chapter also analyses the essentially political nature of social work, the micropolitics of social work, the primacy of human qualities in social work, social work based on a social model approach, participatory social-work education, participatory social work, practice-led social work, and the need for social work to address equality and diversity.

Keywords: Britain; Mike Oliver; radical social work; service users; social-work education; equality; diversity; disability; leadership; micropolitics

Chapter.  7447 words. 

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