This article reports on an exploratory study in the UK on the experiences of social work practitioners and students whose minoritised identities may not be obvious to those they interact with in work and university settings. Study is relevant because people increasingly identify in ways that fall outside singular demographic categories and because there is a dearth of research on their experiences to date. Analysis of the qualitative survey data identifies three overarching themes: experiences of misrecognition and prejudice; fears of being out; and ease with ‘passing’ (successfully presenting oneself in a socially favoured identity rather than an ‘authentic’ one) and ‘code-switching’ (altering language, behaviour or appearance so that it conforms to hegemonic societal and cultural norms). While a small-scale study, experiences of the surveyed practitioners and students provide important illustrations of their ongoing fears about revealing their authentic identities, despite the broader professional commitment to anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice.
The biennial conferences on Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work have reached a new milestone. Running in Belfast since 2010, the 2024 conference will be held in Zurich, Switzerland, 20–21 June. This article describes the journey to date and provides information for those interested in attending future conferences. This short article also includes some reflective comment on the contribution of the Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work conferences to learning and to the research community.
CORU are tasked with regulating social work in Ireland. This commentary responds to a debate that is currently unfolding in Irish social work circles concerning an absence of the term ‘human rights’ from the CORU Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, something that has prompted much criticism. It is argued here that much of this response has been ‘knee-jerk’ and that the debate must be nuanced through the consideration of radical alternatives to ‘human rights’.
This article provides an innovative reading of the relationship between social work and the regulatory bodies mandated to register and regulate it, which has hitherto remained largely untheorised. It achieves this by utilising Hegel’s illustrative tale of ‘lord and bondsman’. This narrative outlines the development of consciousness through dialectical struggle. We argue that the relationship of domination and servitude that has developed between the profession and the regulators is incapable of delivering a satisfactory self-consciousness for either. For the social work profession, consciousness is limited to an enforced ‘being-for’ the regulatory bodies, which appropriate the ends of practice through the labour of the profession. For both to achieve full self-consciousness, each must transcend itself and the other through a dialectical movement in which each is simultaneously ‘negated’ and ‘preserved’. The article highlights ways in which social work can more courageously address its own historical development within such a struggle.
Intimate partner violence is a global problem experienced by all population groups, irrespective of socio-economic, religious and cultural background, and including both women and men. This systematic narrative review synthesises empirical research to draw conclusions on facilitators of, and barriers to, accessing help for victims of intimate partner violence. A search in Scopus, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline and PsycInfo conducted in October 2021 identified 864 articles that were independently reviewed to yield 47 relevant studies published between 2011 and 2021 in peer-reviewed journals. The included studies were synthesised using the following headings: (1) personal aspects; (2) family and friends; (3) community factors; (4) referral channels; (5) financial aspects; and (6) service issues. The severity of injury seemed to be a key factor in deciding to seek help. Family and friends were helpful to victims who were looking for support with their relationship and as a support on their journey towards services. A third key finding was that health and care systems are important referral channels for intimate partner violence services. As supports in intimate partner violence develop, consideration is required not only of the trauma of the victim but also how to communicate and facilitate access to help.
This article examines the views of 29 victim survivors (who were part of a larger study) who retrospectively disclosed non-recent child sexual abuse regarding their reasons for disclosure, the child protection and criminal justice responses to them, and the possible ways for improving system responses to address their needs and interests. The reasons for disclosure centred on a desire to pass the burden of the abuse to someone else, to achieve a subjectively defined form of justice and to regain power and control over their lives. Following disclosure, victim survivors often found themselves involved in two forms of investigation: child protection and criminal justice. The findings suggest that criminal justice systems do not adequately address victims’ needs in these circumstances. They often feel marginal to child protection investigations and feel used instrumentally in those proceedings. However, having social workers ‘rattle the cage’ of perpetrators provided comfort for some victim survivors who failed to get justice through criminal justice mechanisms. Based on the research presented in this study, it is suggested that restorative justice may have something to offer as part of the response to non-recent disclosures of child sexual abuse as part of both criminal justice and child protection investigations and processes.
It can be difficult for researchers to access research participants from vulnerable populations. Focusing on the single victim interviewee recruited for my human trafficking-related research, this article will examine the method employed to conduct research with her, which I term ‘case study by proxy’: a new hybrid qualitative methodological approach combining elements of the case study and interview by proxy methods. This may prove to be a valuable methodological tool for researchers studying vulnerable populations.
In recent decades, a lot of Western countries have been engaged in a heated debate on how to come to terms with their colonial past. Leaving behind the idea that colonial history consists mainly of common achievements, the former philanthropic narrative of ‘modernisation’ and ‘progress’ has been critically analysed and dissected as the awareness of its painful episodes grew. In this vein, the postcolonial history in Belgium is an interesting case to examine, as it has long been one of the most criticised colonial metropoles for the way in which it deals with its colonial past, precisely because Belgium has persisted in focusing on the positive aspect of that past. Consequently, a whole part of this history has not yet been processed and is mainly part of a contested past. Social work practices have long sought to remain neutral in this discussion, but this awareness of history as a dynamic weaving of a multiplicity of different strands of identity also applies directly to the development of social work as a profession. From a social work perspective, it is impossible to retreat into a viewpoint outside of history, as we must become aware that social work practices are deeply embedded in historical and cultural habits from which we cannot disengage. In this article, we argue that social work needs to critically deal with its own confusing history, with which it is interwoven, in order to be able to clarify what contemporary social work represents.
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.