Critical and Radical Social Work's Most Read Articles

Enjoy gratis access to Critical and Radical Social Work's top 5 most downloaded articles published in 2023 until 29 February.

Critical and Radical Social Work Most Read Articles

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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.

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In this article, we introduce the concept of a policy cascade, which describes the process of creating policies to address the consequences of other policies. Using the concept of wicked problems introduced by Rittel and Webber in 1973, we trace state and federal policies to address domestic violence to show how they form a policy cascade and decenter survivors. By treating social issues as wicked problems, upstream approaches that bypass compounding effects of policy may help recenter survivor needs.

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In 2012, Lena Dominelli brought us a timely and essential warning that it was time for the social work profession to recognise its role in examining how the environmental crisis will cause hardship and suffering to communities with whom the profession has traditionally worked. It is fair to say that progress has been slow; a search of published module descriptors for social work programmes delivered across Scotland indicates that there remain barriers to engagement with the climate crisis. This article will focus on the importance of incorporating a critical and radical perspective into social work teaching. This will be achieved by reflecting on, first, learning and teaching theory, and, second, psychological theory, such as the theory of normative conduct. Insight into the reasons for resistance to participation in discourse about the impact of the environmental crisis will be explored through reflecting on climate change theory, teaching theory and the curriculum, along with psychological barriers. This article argues that the critical and radical approach to social work teaching is ideally situated to lead on the inclusion of environmental challenges in social work education and practice.

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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.

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For-profit companies have begun competing with women’s shelters for ‘clients’ trying to escape violence. Using discourse theory, this study examines how 20 private shelters describe their business. The analysis shows that private shelters describe themselves as: (1) having a broad expertise and target group: (2) being able to tend to the individual needs of any client; and (3) being highly available and flexible. We understand this as an expression of a neoliberal market discourse and as a way to differentiate themselves from women’s shelters. This may put pressure on women’s shelters to provide similar ‘inclusion’, availability and flexibility. Furthermore: (4) private shelters contribute to shaping a desirable neoliberal subject, that is, a self-reliant woman; and (5), by articulating needs as individual and inherently mundane, they lean more towards ‘providing accommodation’ than addressing the particularities of (gendered) violence.

Open access