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Author: Liz Frost

Against the background of the multifaceted and various interpretations and definitions of the concept of shame in sociological, psychological, and philosophical literature, Liz Frost, author of this chapter, proposes a systematic classification at which level shame could be considered. This three-part taxonomy she developed in reference to Honneth’s theory of recognition with the expectation of generating an analytical tool for social work theory, reflection, and practice. Three levels are taken into account: political/national, group/social and individual/personal. In each category it will consider how and by whom this type of shame might be generated, some key ideas or arguments within its purview, and some effects and/or practices that it leads to. The importance of the proposed taxonomy is illustrated and clarified on the basis of the phenomenon of ageism.

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Theory, Reflexivity and Practice

For many service users and professionals in the field of social work, shame is an ongoing part of their daily experience.

Providing an in-depth examination of the complex phenomena of shame and humiliation, this book sets out key contextual issues and theoretical approaches to comprehend shame and its relevance within social work. It provides a broad understanding of shame, its underlying social and political contexts and its effects on service users and professionals.

The book uses innovative international scholarship and includes theoretical considerations, as well as empirical findings within the field of social work. It shows the importance of sensitive, reflective and relationship-oriented practice based on a better understanding of the complexity of shame.

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This book aims to approach the phenomenon of shame, especially in the context of social work. It explores the profoundly damaging experience of shame on the identities and potential of many service users, who, through, for example, the stigmatised experiences of poverty or abuse, are silenced within and disconnected from full participation in societies and communities. The book considers shame as a social, moral, and politically generated phenomenon, but equally focuses on the powerful, painful experience of each individual subjected to shaming. Having set out key contextual issues and theoretical approaches to understand shame, the book turns its attention to service users, more specifically young people and the poor. Finally, it offers examples of shame in relation to how social workers experience this in organisations and through, for example, human mistakes and limitations. In relation to shamed social workers and shamed service users, attention is given to how it might be possible to begin to address this painful state.

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This book aims to approach the phenomenon of shame, especially in the context of social work. It explores the profoundly damaging experience of shame on the identities and potential of many service users, who, through, for example, the stigmatised experiences of poverty or abuse, are silenced within and disconnected from full participation in societies and communities. The book considers shame as a social, moral, and politically generated phenomenon, but equally focuses on the powerful, painful experience of each individual subjected to shaming. Having set out key contextual issues and theoretical approaches to understand shame, the book turns its attention to service users, more specifically young people and the poor. Finally, it offers examples of shame in relation to how social workers experience this in organisations and through, for example, human mistakes and limitations. In relation to shamed social workers and shamed service users, attention is given to how it might be possible to begin to address this painful state.

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This book aims to approach the phenomenon of shame, especially in the context of social work. It explores the profoundly damaging experience of shame on the identities and potential of many service users, who, through, for example, the stigmatised experiences of poverty or abuse, are silenced within and disconnected from full participation in societies and communities. The book considers shame as a social, moral, and politically generated phenomenon, but equally focuses on the powerful, painful experience of each individual subjected to shaming. Having set out key contextual issues and theoretical approaches to understand shame, the book turns its attention to service users, more specifically young people and the poor. Finally, it offers examples of shame in relation to how social workers experience this in organisations and through, for example, human mistakes and limitations. In relation to shamed social workers and shamed service users, attention is given to how it might be possible to begin to address this painful state.

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Shame is a powerful emotion in the context of social work. It affects individuals and attacks their subjectivity from within, and yet is also experienced in the here and now as a thoroughly social emotion that enmeshes the individual in society. It is therefore highly potent within the field of social work, for its service users, and in social work practice itself. People who become service users often live in social situations in which they are confronted with shame. This emotion can occur to service users by virtue of being in the social work system, and it can also be experienced by those recruited to alleviate social problems the social workers. This introduction will try to give some preliminary definitions, introduce the main concepts highlighted in the book, present the general structure of the latter, and briefly describe the content of each of its chapters.

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