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Social work at the crossroads

Created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Bailey and Brake’s seminal text Radical Social Work (1975), this volume seeks to explore the radical tradition within social work and assess its legacy, relevance and prospects.

With a foreword by Roy Bailey, the book brings together leading academics within social work in Britain to reflect on the legacy of Radical Social Work (both the original text and the wider social movement) within social work education, theory and practice.

With the current issues facing social work in Britain, this book examines the radical tradition to assert that ‘another social work is possible’.

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Social work is under unprecedented pressure as a result of funding cuts, political interventions, marketisation and welfare transformations which, combined, are dramatically reshaping the relationship between individuals and the welfare state.

A wide range of distinguished academics provide a comprehensive analysis of the evolving challenges facing contemporary social work, reflecting on both the existential and ideological threats to the profession. As well as the chief practice areas of child protection, adult care and mental health, contributors also examine practice issues surrounding older people, neoliberalism, neo-eugenics and the refugee crisis.

This book offers concrete policy proposals for the future of the profession alongside valuable solutions which students and practitioners can action on the ground.

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Contemporary issues and debates

Without a doubt, structural and institutionalised racism is still present in Britain and Europe, a factor that social work education and training has been slow to acknowledge.

In this timely new book, Lavalette and Penketh reveal that racism towards Britain’s minority ethnic groups has undergone a process of change. They affirm the importance of social work to address issues of ‘race’ and racism in education and training by presenting a critical review of a this demanding aspect of social work practice.

Original in its approach, and with diverse perspectives from key practitioners in the field, the authors examine contemporary anti-racism, including racism towards Eastern European migrants, Roma people and asylum seekers. It also considers the implications of contemporary racism for current practice.

This is essential reading for anyone academically or professionally interested in social work, and the developments in this field of study post 9/11.

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Adult social care in Britain has been at the centre of much media and public attention in recent years. Revelations of horrific abuse in learning disability settings, the collapse of major private care home providers, abject failures of inspection and regulation, and uncertainty over how long-term care of older people should be funded have all given rise to serious public concern. In this short form book, part of the Critical and Radical Debates in Social Work series, Iain Ferguson and Michael Lavalette give an historical overview of adult social care. The roots of the current crisis are located in the under-valuing of older people and adults with disabilities and in the marketisation of social care over the past two decades. The authors critically examine recent developments in social work with adults, including the personalisation agenda, and the prospects for adult social care and social work in a context of seemingly never-ending austerity.

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Lessons for social work internationally

What is the relationship between social work and the state? Who controls which services needs are addressed and how? This important book looks at social work responses in different countries to extreme social, economic and political situations in order to answer these questions. Examples include: war situations, military regimes, earthquakes and Tsunamis. The results show the innovative nature of grass-roots provision and social work intervention and will be of interest to all social work academics, students and professionals.

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The article by Jones and Lavalette in Critical and Radical Social Work, volume 1, number 2, entitled ‘The two souls of social work’ has provoked some debate in the journal. This response explores the concept of ‘popular social work’ and its relationship to ‘state-directed social work’ in general and radical social work in particular.

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Sylvia Pankhurst was a well-known Suffragette from the period prior to the First World War. It is less well known that she was also a socialist activist, an anti-racist and a founding member of the British Communist Party. However, can we consider her a social worker? This piece looks at Sylvia’s early life and argues that her radical welfare interventions between 1912 and 1917 mark her out as a pioneer of radical social work interventions.

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