Reviving social work through moral outrage

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Charlotte Williams RMIT University, Australia

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Linda Briskman Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

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Inspired by Hessel’s (2011) call in Time for outrage and drawing on the concept of ‘moral outrage’, we argue in this article that addressing contraventions of human rights and social justice issues demands an emotional connection with the nature of injustice. We propose that contemporary social work in Western liberal democracies has lost touch with the moral imperative, sentiment and affective encounter as a positive impetus for collective action. We consider competing interpretations of why this might be the case and look beyond the incursions of neoliberal market methodologies towards a consideration of the complex relationships between power, subjectivities and collective emotion. Western epistemologies have viewed emotion as the antithesis of rationality and discouraged this type of thinking as somehow risky, tricky and dangerous. We seek to reconfigure this political and ethical (mis)appropriation of emotions and argue for its centrality within the social justice mandate of social work.

Charlotte Williams RMIT University, Australia

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Linda Briskman Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

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Critical and Radical Social Work
An international journal