Using Theories in Social Work Radical, Structural and Critical Approaches to Social Work With particular thanks to Phil Lee. - презентация
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Презентация на тему: " Using Theories in Social Work Radical, Structural and Critical Approaches to Social Work With particular thanks to Phil Lee." — Транскрипт:
Using Theories in Social Work Radical, Structural and Critical Approaches to Social Work With particular thanks to Phil Lee
What will this session cover? 1960s – arrival of radical social work The key concepts – including those derived from Marxism Similarities between conventional and radical social work Differences between conventional and radical social work Influence of Radical Social Work on contemporary practice A Radical Social Work analysis of the present role of social work – see Bill Jordans work Overall assessment – strengths and weaknesses
Age Old Dilemmas Of course there have always been radicals in social work – for example, the Settlement Movements There have always been central dilemmas for those choosing to work in social work type activities. As Jordan says they haunt the profession For example, do you make inadequate policies user friendly or do you try to mobilise resistance and change the system? Geoffrey Pearson powerfully argues in The Deviant Imagination that essentially social work is a morally ambiguous occupation In short, one may be motivated to make things better for the less well off and the underprivileged, but in doing so you may be simply reinforcing them in their own oppression!
Radical Social Work – an explosive mixture…. Langan and Lee describe the RSW movement of the 60s & 70s as this internally explosive mixture (Langan M and Lee P, p 1) Some of the underpinning theories – deviancy theory, symbolic interactionism, community work, feminism – will be more familiar to those of you who have studied Sociology Some of this theory allowed social workers & others to have a better understanding of the role of social worker and social works practices in the wider society According to C Wright Mills, RSW enables social workers to see the structural context of their individual cases
Understanding the State For OConnor the state under capitalism creates: 1.the conditions for continual successful private accumulation (accumulation function) 2.The conditions for the production, reproduction and harnessing of labour power (reproduction function) 3.Welfare systems for a purpose: to accomplish 1 and 2 in ways that do not provoke too much social unrest, resistance or mass confusion, welfare ideology and social control (legitimation/ repression function) is developed
A Cynical View or Gaze? Reproduction of labour and social relations Ian Gough in The Political Economy of the Welfare State (1979, pp44-45) argues that the welfare state is simply the use of state power to modify the reproduction of labour power and to maintain the non-working population in capitalist societies. The State achieves this through the regulation of education, health, and the Personal Social Services This amounts to a frame of mind which leads neatly on to the notions of ideology and social control – important concepts when in evaluating the role of social work.
Is This too cynical? Ideology & Social Control Examples: Deviant behaviours, mental health and medicalisation Reproduction capacities of people with Learning Disabilities (Mental Capacity) The regulation of asylum seekers Managing the poor: surveillance and social control Anti Social Behaviour measures
Key RSW Concepts – for practising in a RSW manner Integrating these structural explanations into practice – not relying on individual psychology or pathology Engaging in practices that were concerned about and tried to reduce inequalities Trying to bring about social transformations trying to give direction to individual and social change that challenged conventional practices Praxis – always seeking to apply radical theories in practice Questioning the present social order and the established ways of doing things Conscientisation – Frieres term – working with people to allow them to see how social structures are implicated in their oppression, and identify appropriate actions Dialogic Practice – working with people in an equal relationship
Some sensible observations here…..BUT some things are very difficult to do consistently in practice Some of the issues that the original RSW movement emphasised have now become part of conventional practice – empowerment; anti- discriminatory practice; feminist and anti-racist practice; client participation etc Yet much of the analysis that the RSW movement made about the wider social role of the social work profession remains unchanged Lets examine a critically informed analysis of contemporary social work
Explaining that dilemma in the here and now : a radical social analysis of contemporary British social work Even before New Labour, contemporary British public sector social work had according to Jordan & Jordan: …..become locked into a style of practice that was legalistic, formal, procedural and arms length……..increasingly concerned with assessing and managing risk and dangerousness ( Social Work and The Third Way, p8) New Labour extended and reinforced many of these tendencies Modernising Social Services (1998, DoH) was primarily a very narrow document focussing primarily on regulating local authority SSDs through a series of supervisory and monitoring bodies; setting new standards and targets against which to measure performance; agencies to enforce these; and a new system for training social workers under the guidance of the GSCC. The Children Act 2004 can be seen as the same. QUESTION: How does Personalisation fit into this analysis?
Thorough Critique of contemporary social work? Jordan & Jordan go on to cover all aspects of contemporary social work practice and related welfare state practices: Fragmentation of public services into a number of specialist functions, all with very narrow instrumental briefs Each with practice largely dictated by extensive central government manuals & guidelines – removing scope for social work professional discretion and criticism New agencies with strong deterrence and enforcement ethos – Asylum Seekers (NASS); Benefits Agency Fraud Investigation……tough love Evidence based approach to social care – leads to a very narrow understanding of what is of benefit for clients – and has effectively led to the de-skilling of both social workers and probation officers
Too narrow a view….. Much New Labour policy revolves around the concept of social exclusion; assuming that the deficiencies of the excluded are what need to be addressed to rectify poverty etc However, most of the better off constantly pursue positional advantage - by buying houses in better off areas, using better schools, accessing private education, normalising private health as a workplace benefit, developing gated communities, joining private health clubs and gyms, shunning public transport, preferring membership of clubs to public facilities etc Thus, social exclusion is as much about the every day choices of the better off as it is about any alleged deficits of the less well off Capitalism generates such inequalities – and social work could play a much more progressive role in addressing this. But how can it?
A more critically aware social work would: be based on more imaginative, creative, democratic & challenging ways of working follow such methods as constructive social work (Parton & OByrne, 2000) and Fooks critical practice ( Fook, 2002) Allow for ambiguity & uncertainty – rather than always seeking to ensure rigid order & discipline In short for the Jordans social work is not a means a implementing policy formally and directly, but of mediating local conflicts generated by many of the new programmes, and engaging with service users over how to fit new measures to their needs Is this realistic?
Differences between RSW and conventional social work Tendency for conventional SW to reduce complex social problems to individual ones – blame the victim..deflecting attention away from social arrangements Better therefore to adjust to the present order than challenge it, as RSW would urge Conventional social work almost can be seen to privatise peoples problems – via confidentiality – rather than allowing them to see how widespread they are…and organise with others to seek change Ultimately conventional social work practice reinforces the status quo and that, of course, means the present order of global capitalism
Weaknesses of radical social work Focus on collective practice and justice – can mean that it appears to ignore/neglect the immediate personal needs of users Therefore weak in offering practice guidelines Not focussed much on emotional issues Conscientisation requires insight and then action – not always clear how both can be brought about by social workers in present practice situations Limited view of power – tends to see all power as control Under-estimates the value of conventional insight therapies Often untestable in practice – therefore allows itself the luxury of critique without responsibility Possibly over-estimates peoples desire for justice and change
Strengths of radical social work Has led to change – a great deal – influence of feminism; anti-racism; disability rights; user focus etc Forces social workers to take power seriously in theory and practice Users problems need to be contextualised in wider society and practices Important to constantly subject conventional practice to criticism – Payne states that it digs away at the weaknesses of conventional practice (p 249)