Social Work

Our Social Work publishing features books and journals that help to address issues arising from poverty, inequality and social injustice.

The list includes monographs, textbooks and practitioner guides, series, including Research in Social Work co-published with the European Social Work Research Association, and the Critical and Radical Social Work and European Social Work Research journals.

Policy Press is the leading UK book publisher for books on child abuse, child sexual exploitation, child protection and children’s social work.

Social Work

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Bureaucratic discourses informed by legacies of slavery and colonisation create traumatising experiences among African Canadian youth in social, educational and law-enforcement institutions in Canada. These discourses create the already-known-people paradigm and are then exacerbated by the effects of neoliberal policies and managerialist administrations to produce an unfortunate social condition in which system professionals discount what these youth say about experiential marginality and social injustice. This means that African Canadian youth end up being understood by system professionals from administrative discourses or from historical assumptions. Using phenomenology, I argue in this article that focusing on the experiences of these youth in time when assessing or making decisions about them may help to reduce stereotyping and stigmatisation, and to highlight normalised social injustices. Consequently, focusing on behaviour-in-time as opposed to behaviour-in-discourse may allow system professionals to operationalise administrative discourses without downplaying behaviour-in-time, which is important in service provision.

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In the absence of a national Palestinian state and in response to the oppressive daily practices of the British Mandate government, the Israeli settlers’ colonial occupation and the Arab governments that ruled the West Bank and Gaza between 1950 and 1967, the Palestinian community has had to create and develop a set of indigenous resilience strategies. and refer to all these strategies as ‘A’mal Ejtima’y’, or ‘popular social work’, characterised by collectivism, public participation and non-hierarchical design, which has played a role in mobilising masses and facilitating youth engagement in the decolonisation process. Despite more than a century of existence of this form of social work in Palestine, it has received marginal or no attention from formal social work education and research. Recent years have witnessed some indications of the ‘resurrection’ of community social work in its very popular version.

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Since the return to democracy in the 1990s, community programmes in Chile have been pervaded by the neoliberal and neo-colonial approaches of social policies promoted by the state and supranational organisations, such as the World Bank. In this article, we examine the possibilities of front-line community social workers dismantling such a hegemonic rationale. Drawing upon the contributions of Latin American decolonial thought, we argue that social workers are able to exert resistance on the individual, competitive and instrumental approaches underlying their community interventions by decolonising their understandings and professional practices, and by being involved in collective political action. An exploration of Mapuche philosophy is offered as a means to illustrate some key dimensions in order to scrutinise community interventions and challenge the traditional mainstream Western and Eurocentric notions of community, knowledge and professional bonds and encounters. These proposals apply when working not only with culturally different populations, but also with all those subaltern groups oppressed by the neoliberal and neo-colonial rationale, in the interest of contributing to cognitive justice – another dimension of social justice.

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Three Labour politicians with experience in government and backgrounds in social work spoke on a conference panel about politics and social work. All had moved into electoral politics with the view that there were limits to the radical change that social work could achieve. They discussed how social work has influenced their political work and how constituency casework illuminates the impact of policies on individuals. This article examines the themes of the discussion.

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Social workers, broadly conceived, are engaged in assisting asylum seekers. Grounded in a small empirical study encompassing the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland, the article comments on the wider context and issues relating to asylum, migration and social work. The findings incorporate themes stretching across six interrelated dimensions: the practitioners’ own backgrounds; the lack of professional social workers; the dependence on volunteers; inadequate resourcing and high caseloads; inadequate supervision; and categorisation. All these issues are significant for social work education and for a profession that needs to exhibit more interest in questions of migration and more of a commitment to human rights.

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Fatima Uygun works with the Govanhill Baths Community Trust, a Glasgow-based organisation that has been at the heart of some of the most effective community campaigns in Scotland over more than two decades. On behalf of Critical and Radical Social Work, Iain Ferguson interviewed Fatima about the trust’s activities and what she sees as the essence of good community work practice.

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Professional supervision is considered a key aspect of effective social work practice. In much of the world, front-line social work practitioners prioritise social work supervision as essential to ensuring a supportive working environment. This is crucially the case while working in ethically and politically contentious environments (such as working with refugees). Despite its centrality to effective practice, access to professionally meaningful supervision is nowadays seen by employers as a ‘luxury’, rather than as an integral part of front-line practice. On many occasions, the responsibility for accessing and paying for supervision is delegated to practitioners. Different models of supervision have been proposed over the years. This article provides a unique reflection on the creation and function of a ‘radical supervision’ approach, developed by practitioners and academics in Greece to deal with the complex professional and emotional dilemmas that emerged in the context of working with refugees. By ‘radical supervision’, the participants and authors refer to a non-hierarchical, peer-support supervision model that also prioritises collective action and mobilisation as regards structural challenges, thus departing from than the traditional individualistic approach to supervision. The group consisted of seven front-line practitioners and two academics. All practitioners worked in the field of refugee services. The supervisory group met regularly over a period of eight months from December 2020 to July 2021. The group followed the principles of participatory action research to analyse and report findings and reflections, while the analysis, as well the procedure of the supervision per se, were based on the liberation health model.

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The article argues that social work academics, especially critical and radical social work academics, ought to contribute to alternative, open and more collective approaches to academic publication. The prevailing problematic of price gouging, that is, for-profit publishers enclosing scholarly articles behind paywalls, is discussed, along with mainstream liberal responses in the form of open access initiatives that aim to reorient the business models of for-profit publishers towards payment for publication. Mainstream approaches analyse the problem of achieving open access as one of oligopoly and market failure. Other more critical perspectives are introduced, along with the notion of the commons as a site of struggle within higher education. A brief case study of a collective, community-driven approach to transitioning the Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work journal to open access is offered, before concluding with an assessment of open access as just one part of a wider platform of anti-capitalist struggle within higher education.

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