It is self-evident that critique lies at the heart of Critical Social Work. Even so, more attention should be given to clarifying the meaning of this form of evaluation, particularly when it is applied in the social sciences and social professions. More precisely, it is necessary to explain the meta-theoretical conceptualisation of critique and, crucially, note its different expressions. Through gaining such clarity, the contention is that Critical Social Work sharpens its appreciation of social injustice and how to tackle it. This article describes and augments one meta-theoretical conception of critique involving a typology delineating interconnected forms of evaluation. The indelible bond between this paradigmatic outline of critique, critical theory and Critical Social Work is subsequently considered, highlighting some possibilities for social transformation. Adopting these precepts, by way of conclusion, leads to a critical cosmopolitan orientation within Critical Social Work, making it relevant to the pressing challenges of today’s world.
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 chapter examines strategies for addressing power imbalances, bias and disempowerment in the research process from the perspective of both care-experienced and non-care-experienced researchers. Also, this chapter reflects on practical advice for those engaging with care-experienced people in research and doing so can create more authentic, empowering and meaningful experiences for care-experienced participants in ways that reduce fear of shame, stigma, tokenism and re-traumatisation.
Street-involved children are recognised as a social concern worldwide. In South Africa, there are an estimated 250,000 street-involved children, living mostly in the larger centres of the country. Street-involved children’s lives are characterised by hardship and stigmatisation; they live on the very edges of society. However, street-involved children demonstrate considerable resilience in their daily lives as they navigate and negotiate their way to accessing resources necessary for their daily lives and future goals. This study entailed qualitative interviews with nine young adults who had lived on the streets prior to coming into care, and then been taken up into the residential care of a children’s home and had since aged out of care. The study examined the accounts of the resilience of these nine care-leavers while living on the streets. The findings show that, while on the streets, participants demonstrated resilience in building family-like connections, networking people for resources and reflecting on their learning through life experiences. The authors argue that recognising and celebrating these resilience factors when working with former street-involved children in care will enable them to incorporate these resilience processes into a repertoire of resilience enablers for life.
This book has aimed to conduct research about edgy facets of leaving care – understudied groups of care-leavers, and fresh methodological approaches and innovative theories. In this concluding chapter, we draw together key findings regarding these three facets, highlighting what has been learned collectively through this project. The research has been conducted and chapters written by authors from all over the world who are, mostly, on the edge, transitioning between postgraduate student and scholar. Spring-boarding from their new insights, the chapter attempts to imagine what leaving-care research will look like in the future and where the new edges might be. It will draw attention to the many gaps and edges that remain and suggest possibilities for ongoing research that pushes the boundaries yet further forward.
To assist care-leavers in navigating transitional challenges, developmental and environmental resources are essential. Additionally, informal support is pivotal to the transition of care-leavers into adulthood. A small qualitative study conducted from 2016 to 2019 in Victoria, Australia, provides the basis for this chapter. The research used an analytical framework based on the core concepts of social capital and social support. It helped explore how social support actions and social capital functions interact to allow young people to harness and access developmental and environmental resources to help meet their transitional needs. Social support and capital have been found to contribute to meaningful relationships, normative social experiences, resilience, positive self-identity and progressive responsibility. Policy and practice implications are also discussed in the chapter.
A solid foundation of knowledge about care-leaving processes and outcomes has been laid, albeit largely in a few Global North countries. This knowledge foundation has edges that have been neglected, even overlooked. Young people leaving care are, in many ways, ‘on the edge’, as they transition between childhood and adulthood, care and independence, school and work. Thus, this book discusses and reflects on hitherto little considered, forward-looking questions and research approaches, rather than keeping to the mainstream research topics. The title also describes the backgrounds of the authors who themselves are ‘on the edge’ as well – emerging from their postgraduate studies around the globe. This book aims to conduct research about edgy facets of leaving care – understudied groups of care-leavers, fresh methodological approaches and innovative theories. It draws together key findings regarding these three facets, highlighting what has been learned collectively. All chapters attempt to imagine how leaving-care research will look in the future and where the new edges might be. Finally, the editors draw attention to the many gaps and edges that remain and suggest possibilities for ongoing research that pushes the boundaries yet further forward.
Leaving care involves a dynamic tension between a young person’s individual agency and the institutional processes comprising a wide range of service organisations. However, research on leaving care still tends to focus on either the individual or the institution. By contrast ‘institutional ethnography’ offers a method that can analyse the key organising concepts of leaving care and their relationship to one another by shedding light on the meeting place, ‘the edge’, that links individual agency and institutional processes that together drive care-leaving as a lived experience. Institutional ethnography begins with individual, local, lived experiences and then analyses the translocal institutional factors contributing to those experiences. It not only explicates how institutional processes shape individuals’ experiences but also how individual agency activates the institutional context. The chapter draws on two studies of leaving care in Norway – one focused on social work decisions and the other on the experiences of disabled care-leavers – to illustrate how institutional ethnography can be used as a method to understand care-leaving as the relationship between individual agency and institutional processes.