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  • Author or Editor: Vishanthie Sewpaul x
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This article deals with the consequences of neoliberalism for social work education and practice, and proposes alternatives based on radical theories and on lessons from the Arab spring and the international Occupy Movement. While grass roots involvement and development are important, the enormous consequences of neoliberalism means that single small-scale community-based initiatives are, in themselves, insufficient to challenge the power of corporate capital, centralised authoritarian governments and the international financial institutions. The problems of local communities in contemporary society are almost always located beyond their borders. Effecting change will therefore depend on our ability to mobilise people on large scales, to build alliances and bridges across similarities and differences, to network across borders, and on joining and supporting global social movements that work toward greater social justice, deepened democracies, solidarity and respect for human dignity.

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This article focuses on research conducted in relation to the gendered dynamics of access to, and utilisation of, agricultural inputs in the quest for women’s empowerment. The article focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arose during the course of the research in relation to the claim that scientific research, particularly of the logical-positivist tradition, should not cause disruption to people’s lives and that researchers must remain detached and neutral. This contrasts with the requisite of critical, emancipatory social research, which calls for using research for transformational purposes. Our original research, upon which this article is based, reflects that while participants were aware of gender-discriminatory practices in accessing and utilising agricultural inputs, they were unwilling to challenge naturalised discriminatory and oppressive cultural norms. The ethical dilemma was whether to leave the participants’ views and gendered practices unchallenged, or to adopt strategies of consciousness raising in an attempt to engender change.

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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.

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An over-consumptive neoliberal world, fuelled largely by media messages that insidiously lead people to define their worth by their purchasing choices and purchasing power, is contributing to the destruction of the planet and pushing the Earth beyond acceptable tipping points, posing grave threats to human and planetary well-being. If social work is to play a meaningful role in challenging the hegemony of neoliberalism and human-induced climate change and their disastrous consequences, it must disarticulate itself from modernist, positivist orientations and embrace an emancipatory praxis with a focus on the politicisation of the self and of the profession. Emancipatory praxis holds the potential to combine a spiritual cosmocentricism, based on self-enlightenment and altered conceptualisations of self, other and nature, and the pragmatic aspects of liberation in freeing ourselves from cultural, political and capitalistic ideological hegemony to enable shifts towards ecosocial justice.

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