The article revisits an idea developed and explicated by the author in the early 2000s: that social work can be understood as a (site of) memory concerning societal conflicts and, at the same time, as an open archive or storage that holds very different answers to social questions across time and space. The genesis of this figure of thought is reconstructed and contextualised theoretically, historically and politically. Thus, the idea of social work as memory of conflicts or open archive itself can be characterised as one specific answer to the dispute over history and memory (not only related to social work), while, at the same time, providing new approaches to understanding social work’s present(s) and future(s). Therefore, the article ends with reflections on ‘appropriate’ representations of social work’s history in social work education.
This article makes the submission that social work is stuck and needs now to find ways to endure its commitments to caring from inside the suspended time that is so characteristic of late capitalism and not from some imaginary place outside of it. When telling this time in the form of history, there is a tendency to want to pass over what is most difficult about it – the inescapable fact of having to live through it – just at the moment when this is the reality most in need of being carefully thought about. Remembering that in talking about social work, we are talking about a labour of care defined, in part, by a sensitive, practical engagement with time that is difficult to live, I look to recent feminist theoretical work on care that can help us to think about how we might handle being stuck in painful time.
This discussion seeks to critically explore the white, colonial narrative of gender-based and sexual violence that has justified and facilitated increased carceral power in responding to the social issue. In particular, I aim to emphasise the ways in which carcerality obscures the complex histories and dynamics of gender-based and sexual violence in order to individualise and privatise the problem. To demonstrate these dynamics, I will analyse: (1) the characterisation of perpetrators of gender-based and sexual violence as violent ‘Others’; (2) the centring of white women’s narratives in justifying increases to carceral power and implementing criminalising policies; (3) the extension of the carceral gaze through social work service provision; and (4) the fallacies of postfeminism facilitated by carceral logics. This discussion will conclude with exploring the possibilities of abolitionist social work and anti-carceral feminism in challenging the white narrative and creating space for partial histories to emerge.
Electronic gaming machines are normalised business within Australia’s hotels and clubs. Concentrated within low socio-economic and disadvantaged communities, this high-intensity form of gambling creates the often-hidden addiction of problem gambling and the associated widespread social harms. This qualitative study uses radical social work thinking to explore gaming venue employees’ perceptions and experiences of implementing ‘responsible gambling measures’, ostensibly aimed at mitigating the social consequences and harms of problematic gambling. Our analysis reveals that neoliberal ideologies mean that gaming venue employees support ‘freedom of choice’ narratives, which ignore the structural influences at play when an individual becomes an ‘irresponsible’ consumer/gambler. Social workers must be cognisant of the ways in which the notion of the ‘(ir)responsible gambler’ skews how problem gambling and problem gamblers are viewed. The social harms from electronic gaming machines are complex and widespread, and deserve more recognition and attention in social work practice, policy and research.
Colonial critical social work education is a strange place. It professes a goal of social justice but subscribes to an often-unconscious compliance with what has been named as ‘colonial’ or ‘white time’. White time sets and enforces limits for the completion of courses, programmes and assignments. Such colonial chrononormativity also sets and enforces what counts as and in history. In this article, we question this time compliance, tracing literature on critical temporalities that take up, for example, crip, queer and pandemic time. Drawing on abolitionist work, we then outline how colonial time may also be transcarceral, that is, confining and punishing, especially when we commit time-crime and ‘miss’ a deadline. Indeed, by delving into the little-known but violent history of deadlines, we hope to encourage more refusals of transcarceral time, as well as deliberate discussions that create space for a range of temporalities in our classrooms and beyond.
While the term ‘social work’ has established itself internationally, many countries have alternative social professions with rich histories and distinct theory bases. This article examines a German example by theoretically considering a discipline central to child welfare: social pedagogy. The frameworks of key theorists are presented, reconstructing an intellectual lineage in education discourses and Continental philosophy. The case of social pedagogy acts as a reminder of mainstream theory bases quite different to those historically seen in Anglo-Saxon social work. Positivist perspectives are absent; instead, hermeneutics and critical theory have been dominant theoretical sources. Kant’s concept of Mündigkeit (‘maturity’), that is, the ability of a person to be a self-determining subject, reveals itself as the theoretical anchor point, linking the earliest theory making with later emancipatory and lifeworld approaches. The concepts that are recurrent in discourses can be amalgamated to define the discipline, and a tentative composite German social pedagogy definition is cautiously suggested.
Origin stories set the stage for the development of a field of study and are integral to the ways they grow and shift. Similar to other reclamation projects, fat studies aims to rewrite the history of ‘fat’ by subverting its violent use for surveillance and control, and positioning it as a natural human characteristic. Its origin story is inextricably linked to the activism and scholarship of white and white-passing women, and is often located in gendered expectations of the ‘appropriate’ feminine body. As a result, the racial origins and functionings of fatphobia become erased and create a normative fat subject that is typically cisgender, female and white, which is reproduced in much of the research emerging from the field. I, along with other fat activists and scholars, propose a fundamental shift towards an intersectional fat studies, with race as an entry point to analysis towards rewriting the field’s history and presence.
This paper draws together the work of three leading social work academics to look at the question of abortion and a woman’s right to chose in the context of the recent Roe V Wade reversal in the United States.
Bureaucratic discourses informed by legacies of slavery and colonisation create traumatising experiences among African Canadian youth in social, educational and law-enforcement institutions in Canada. These discourses create the already-known-people paradigm and are then exacerbated by the effects of neoliberal policies and managerialist administrations to produce an unfortunate social condition in which system professionals discount what these youth say about experiential marginality and social injustice. This means that African Canadian youth end up being understood by system professionals from administrative discourses or from historical assumptions. Using phenomenology, I argue in this article that focusing on the experiences of these youth in time when assessing or making decisions about them may help to reduce stereotyping and stigmatisation, and to highlight normalised social injustices. Consequently, focusing on behaviour-in-time as opposed to behaviour-in-discourse may allow system professionals to operationalise administrative discourses without downplaying behaviour-in-time, which is important in service provision.