Chapter

Rediscovering radicalism and humanity in social work

Mary Langan

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/9781847428189.003.0010
Rediscovering radicalism and humanity in social work

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In his book Reclaiming social work: Challenging neoliberalism and promoting social justice, Iain Ferguson asks how social work can rediscover its humanity as well as its radicalism. This question accurately identifies the challenges facing social work in Britain today. Radical social work has suffered a particular loss of focus and direction as a consequence of the fragmentation of the left and the new social movements of feminism and anti-racism from which it emerged. Critics of the evolution of social policy and social work under New Labour have exposed the processes of privatisation, marketisation, and managerialism that continue to exert their influence on social-work clients and practitioners alike. This chapter considers an equally important aspect of current social policy: the therapeutic dynamic that accelerated in New Labour's second and third terms. It also comments on New Labour's Sure Start programme for parents and young children, as well as the ‘positive psychology’ and authoritarianism of New Labour's therapeutic initiatives.

Keywords: Britain; radical social work; New Labour; social policy; Sure Start; positive psychology; authoritarianism; radicalism; managerialism; therapeutic dynamic

Chapter.  4301 words. 

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