Lost in Arcadia?

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In his highly interesting and provocative article, Paul Michael Garrett gives a detailed sketch of recently emerging developments in social work with children and families in England and the Republic of Ireland. Underpinned by Gramscian ideas, Garrett asserts that it is vital to focus on the molecular details associated with the current project of creating a new hegemony in the sector that is influenced by the discourse of reform, operating within different professional, expert and emotional registers in the field. Our rejoinder should be considered as an attempt to share some situated reflections and issues that are emerging from our research praxis in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). Only recently, we have positioned our work (inspired by the French philosopher Camus and the Belgian philosophers Apostel and Hertmans) as a productive and meaningful engagement with complexity and ambiguity as vital elements of social work, since:

every answer to social problems remains incomplete in any case because it is, in a sense, just an answer that opens up new possibilities, questions and limitations. Nevertheless, the question might be more essential than the answer, as every answer holds the potential to shift evident meanings and to transform realities into provocative issues. (Roose et al, 2011, p 9)

In our point of view, Garrett situates social work justly as rooted in contemporary issues of major socio-economic, political and ideological changes, referring to the global economic crisis that has led to emergency measures providing for greater welfare state intervention, which seems to run entirely counter to the rhetoric of neoliberalism.

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