Social Work > Social Work

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Over recent years, the number of refugee families with children fleeing to Europe has increased. Although reception centres in Europe are not equipped to host families with children, families nevertheless remain for extensive periods in these collective centres, where they lack autonomy, privacy, certainty and often even a sense of security. Drawing on 123 interviews with parents (58), children (38) and social workers (38) in nine collective reception centres in Belgium, we analyse how the Belgian asylum regime impacts refugee parents’ capacity to fulfil parental roles and responsibilities and social workers’ relationships with refugee parents. Our analysis points to a complex combination of declining parental agency yet increasing responsibility on behalf of refugee parents across different parental roles and responsibilities. This in turn leads children to take on what are typically considered ‘adult roles’, raising concerns about parentification among social workers. By introducing the term ‘institutionalized forms of parentification’, we call for a re-politicization of social work with refugee families. Moving away from common approaches to family relationships that focus primarily on the individual or the family system, our findings draw attention to the impact of social spaces, policies and cultural value systems.

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Dementia affects memory, language and motor functions, engenders behavioural and psychological disorders, and progressively weakens the ability of older people to communicate and interact. Simultaneously, maintaining residents in social exchanges and enabling them to behave as a ‘person’, a status to be understood in moral terms, is a main objective of care work in nursing homes. Based on an ethnographic study conducted in a long-term Swiss care facility and by focusing on professionals’ inquiries, this article uncovers two ‘arts of doing’ used by professionals to make contact with residents and maintain them in the fabric of relationships. First, ‘sensitive arts of doing’ are in play when professionals seek to interpret a situation from a resident’s gestures and emotions in order to (re)establish the fine-tuning necessary for continued interaction. Second, ‘hermeneutic arts of doing’ are employed when professionals try to determine how residents perceive their environment and elucidate how to make sense of what they are doing together. Highlighting these two ‘arts of doing’ gives depth and substance to the relational activities undertaken by professionals and proposes concrete methods that can support care, interaction and value-based practice with older people with dementia.

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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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Portuguese student welfare policy is a field of action in which social workers develop interventions to promote school success, equal opportunities and well-being for students. This study aims to discuss the consequences of monetary support policies and how these are associated with university students’ monetary and emotional safety and academic success. It further analyses managers’ perspectives regarding social workers’ participation in student welfare policy. Mixed research methods were applied, taking into consideration empirical data from three levels of analysis involving different data-processing techniques. The results show that monetary policies contribute to students’ monetary and emotional safety. However, monetary policies have no influence on the time dedicated to school activities. Results also demonstrate that the production of follow-up strategies would benefit from managers fomenting a proactive attitude among social workers.

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In 2019, the removal of ‘human rights’ from Ireland’s CORU Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics ignited much opposition and campaigns for reinstatement. This short article responds to Whelan and Flynn’s assertion that alternatives to human rights should be sought, characterising the oppositional response and campaigns as lacking in sophistication. It is argued that human rights have much potential for critical and radical social work and must therefore be defended.

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The social work profession defines itself as one that promotes social change and the liberation of people. In social work practice, there is often a controversy between solving problems and engaging social issues within political, economic and historical realities. The aim of this article is to determine the current landscape of radical social work within the South African context. Findings indicate that radical efforts and responses towards decolonial social work focus on locating social work in social movements, responding to the status quo and confronting neoliberal policies. A radical stance on various issues of gross human rights violations in current affairs must be considered as a critical component of reimagining social work identity in South Africa.

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This article shares the reflections of members of a collaborative practitioner–academic research team in social work. The team investigated the career progression experiences of black social workers working in statutory social work services in South-East London. Our intention in this article is to share our experience of researching a subject that holds emotional and political resonance. We do so by offering individual perspectives from different team members on how their project involvement affected them both personally and professionally. We also discuss some of the general themes identified in our reflections. These include practitioners growing in research confidence, the need to create a safe emotional space for stories of researcher discomfort and uncertainty to be heard, the effects of undertaking research on professional social work identity, and curiosity about whether our research endeavours can change social work career progression policies and practices for black social work colleagues. We caution that a safe emotional container is required when researching personally and professionally sensitive, subjects such as racism and discrimination in social work. We hope that our article inspires social work practitioners to become involved in research activities.

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Within this article we highlight that social work is both a political as well as a professional practice. Despite years of technical specialisation and a policy context that has focused social work on risk management and resource allocation, there remains a deep commitment to care, compassion, and solidarity within contemporary social work practice. The article and its analysis make the case for a more politically informed social work practice, one that is based on solidarity; in opposition to a system that isolates individuals and internalises complex social problems. We posit that the application of solidarity within social work delivers a practice that promotes social inclusion and is based on the provision of practical social support. It is from this perspective that we will present evidence from ethnographic research, drawn from community social work practice, to highlight the importance of social solidarity and provide an insight into different ways of working.

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The response to the immigration crisis of 2015 raised issues about how social work as a profession in the UK was responding to what was unfolding in Calais, France. This article draws on evidence from a qualitative study conducted between 2018 and 2020 that analysed the narratives of 13 front-line local authority social workers’ experiences of volunteering with a charity. It was found that social workers were motivated to volunteer with the charity due to its commitment to social work’s core values of social justice and human rights through a radical social work approach and activism on issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees. This article highlights the opportunities for an alternative social work practice and recommends ways of embedding this in social work practice and education.

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The objective of this article is to apprehend relations between social assistance policies and the working class in the Brazilian economic and social context. The compensatory nature of social assistance policies is followed by the precariousness of working conditions and the naturalization and individualization of pauperism, which mystify the connection between users and their social class. The apparent disconnection with the working class naturalizes the lack of a guarantee of the right to work and enhances subordination to capital.

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